Rugby wins first game of season

Bob Reynolds , Staff Reporter

The Eastern rugby team opened its home schedule with a 31-17 victory over Tennessee on Saturday at Lakeside Field.

Eastern started off with the foot on the gas pedal, scoring twice early in the first half.

Newcomer Katlyn Gibson took advantage of a Tennessee turnover and scored. Hannah Vieth added a two-point kick conversion to give the Panthers a 7-0 lead.

Gibson was hurt on the try and was held out the rest of the game with a leg injury, after being carted off the field.

Another newcomer Deairelle Ivy scored her first try of her career and Vieth added her second-straight kick conversion to give the Panthers a 14-0 lead.

The Volunteers cut the Panthers’ lead to 14-7 after Morgan Alston scored for Tennessee.

The Panthers scored seven more points with 11 seconds left in the second half on freshman Lacey Viano’s try and a two-point kick conversion by Vieth.

Eastern coach Frank Graziano said that the three newcomers scoring in the first half was nice to see. The Panthers entered their first home game with two losses, which Eastern was outscored 88-18 in.

In the second half, the game looked like it had déjà vu written all over it, as in the last game the Panthers played, they were leading at the half and let Lindenwood run all over them in the second half of the game.

Early in the second half of Saturday’s game, the Volunteers scored to cut the lead to 21-12.

But, the Panthers responded with solid defense and added a try from Katlyn Hammock to give the Panthers a 26-12 lead.

Both teams traded tries late in the second half, capped off by a Carissa Burge try.

Neither team converted a two-point kick conversion in the final 40 minutes of the game.

Vieth finished the game 3-of-5 kicking, which was her best in the first three games of the season.

Graziano said after the game that it was nice to see the Panthers pull out a win and figure out how well they needed to play to win a game.

“Certainly it was great to get our first win,” he said. “The girls worked very hard to try and feel what that actually feels like to play well enough to win a game.  We played very good in spurts, and then we didn’t play so good in spurts.”

Eastern’s next action begins at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in Marietta, Ga., where the Panthers take on Life University.

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