Panthers head to New England

Eastern travels to Hamden, Conn. to play the Quinnipiac Bobcats this weekend.

The Panthers are coming off a strong second half performance that had them recording 36 unanswered points to come away with a win on the road.

Freshman center Nia Williams said freshmen are looking good and meshing well with the more experienced players.

“We are a great rugby team and I feel that this win is a turning point for the freshman,” she said. “We fit in with the veterans and we are understanding the game and where we need to be.”

Eastern will continue its season-long three -game road trip this weekend against the Quinnipiac Bobcats. The Panthers got the best of the Bobcats in the first ever NCAA Division-I women’s rugby game on Sept. 18 at Lakeside Field. The Panthers shutout the Bobcats by a score of 24-0.

The Eastern team is confident they can do more of the same and make it 2-0 against the Bobcats this season. Quinnipiac’s coaching staff is full of former Panther players and assistant coaches and they will be familiar with the Panthers style of play.

Head coach Frank Graziano will have his team working against some of its own offensive and defensive plays to prepare for this weekend’s game.

The Panthers will also have to battle against a number of scenarios that will question the team’s focus.

The Panthers are set to fly from Indianapolis International Airport on Friday morning.

“I know we are excited about traveling on a plane,” Graziano said. “We haven’t done that since 2007, and it will be a great experience.”

The Panthers are also traveling to unfamiliar territory and may be awe-struck as they find their way through New England.

“We are in a very strange part of the country,” he said. “I think we only have one or two girls who have ever been to New England.”

Graziano said he hopes the team will be able to remain focused amid the team’s travel distractions.

“When we went to Oregon in 2007, the girls were excited and looking around and it was hard to get them focused on the game,” he said. “The first half of the Oregon game was not so good and we will hope to avoid a traveling ‘hangover’ this time.”

Jordan Pottorff can be reached at 581-7942 or [email protected].