Panthers confident heading to Lindenwood

Bob Reynolds, Staff Reporter

Confidence is riding high with the Eastern rugby team as it heads to St. Charles, Mo., on Tuesday to face off against Lindenwood.

The Panthers have not played in 17 days, since their 64-5 loss to the Wisconsin All-Stars back on August 30.

Eastern coach Frank Graziano said he expects his team to play a lot better in Tuesday’s game, mainly because of the fact that the team has had excellent practices during the last two weeks.

“I believe we have made the right adjustments,” he said. “I believe everybody is ready to show what we’re capable of two weeks into the season. I believe they are eager to go out and play to prove how much better we are now than we were two weeks ago.”

Throughout the last couple weeks, the Panthers’ main focus has been to improve on the defensive side of the ball, because they allowed 64 points to the Wisconsin All-Stars last time out.

Graziano said the one key to victory is being able to hustle on defense.

“We have been trying, not only to play defense, but play defense at high rate,” he said. “We just have to continue to work at it and that is the way we are going to have to play (Lindenwood).”

On Sept. 7, Lindenwood defeated Northern Illinois 113-7 on the road, and then a week later traveled up to Davenport, Mich., and lost to Davenport University 20-5. Graziano said that was encouraging to see.

“That gives you an idea that if they come across a team that really wants to play defense, they can be held in check a little bit,” Graziano said. “That hundred points looks like a big number up there, but then you go and play a team that focuses on defense really well and only scores five points, that was really encouraging for our girls to see that if we play defense, we don’t have to score a lot of points to win this game.”

Graziano said there have been multiple players, mainly the newcomers who have progressed during the last two weeks.

He said freshman Madison Overbay is ready to take that next step and have a break out game, but the key players he said that will need to have a good game are the three seniors, Kim Youhas, Carissa Burge and Ellen Wilson for the Panthers.

“Those three have got to play super,” he said. “I believe they are ready to play super. I think if they realize they are playing really well, it will just inspire the newcomers. That will make us as a team play really well.”

The Panthers and Lindenwood will start at 7:30 p.m. at Harlen C. Hunter Stadium in St. Charles, Mo.


Bob Reynolds can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].