Panthers emerge victorious in slugfest

The Eastern rugby team remains undefeated after coming out on top in a hard-fought 24-

5 win against Northern Iowa. The Panthers now sit at a perfect 7-0 on the season.

Eastern and Northern Iowa met on the rugby pitch over the weekend and renewed their intense rivalry.

Eastern got the scoring started early in the second half when junior scrum-half Ashley Aardsma recorded a 5-point try in the 13th minute of play. The try was assisted by sophomore wing Cara Hahne.

Eastern was at it again just three minutes later when senior scrum-half and team captain Narissa Ramirez capped off a big run for a try of her own in the 16th minute. Junior center Lauren Doyle converted on a 2-point conversion following Ramirez’s try to give the Panthers a 12-0 lead. The remainder of the first half was a stalemate, and Eastern went into the half time break with a 12-0 lead.

Eastern wasted no time to take control of the game as Hahne tallied her eleventh try of the season in the opening minutes of the second half to give Eastern a 17-0 lead. Northern Iowa was able to counter with a scoring drive of their own, following Hahne’s try, but were kept out of the end zone for the remainder of the game.

Eastern head coach Frank Graziano said the toughness and the intensity the defense showed was the difference maker in the game, and that propelled Eastern to get the win.

“I want to give a lot of credit to the forwards. I asked them to really dig in and play tough defense,” Graziano said. “We worked on it all week, but if it doesn’t show up on game day it doesn’t have meaning. It showed up today and the credit goes to them.”

Doyle capped off an impressive performance as she split the middle of Northern Iowa’s defense and recorded a try and converted a 2-point conversion to give Eastern a 24-5 win.

Although Eastern came away with a statement win, the game left room for improvement. Sunday’s slugfest of a game was full of 47 penalties that cost both teams multiple scoring chances or gave the opposing team good field position.

“We have to cut down on the penalties,” Graziano said. “If it wasn’t for that, we could

have shut them out today.”

The Panthers will travel to Ames, Iowa, to take on the Iowa State Cyclones in their final road game of the season. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.

Around the NCAA

In other rugby action, The West Chester Golden Rams were back in action and dominated Shippensburg University by a score of 56-3. The Golden Rams are now 4-0 on the season.

The Bowdoin Polar Bears advanced to the New England Division II Championship Tournament with a 44-5 win over New Hampshire.

The Norwich Cadets were also in playoff action over the weekend, as they recorded an 87-0 win over Colby University.

The Quinnipiac Bobcats were in action but recorded a rare result. The Bobcats and Stony Brook played to an 11-11 draw over the weekend.

Jordan Pottorff can be reached at 581-7942

or [email protected].