Panthers face off against familiar face

Bob Reynolds , Staff Reporter

Eastern rugby coach Frank Graziano will be seeing a familiar face on the opponent’s sideline on Saturday, when the Panthers go up against Quinnipiac University.

Becky Carlson has been coaching the Quinnipiac rugby program since 2010, and it so happens to be that she played rugby under Graziano from 1999-2003 and was the Panther rugby assistant coach from 2004-2006.

Carlson’s assistant Michelle Reed also was an assistant coach under Graziano from 2002-2004.

Graziano said he enjoys going head-to-head against Quinnipiac, because of the familiar faces he sees on the sidelines.

“It is always fun playing against them,” he said. “I enjoy coach Reed and coach Carlson immensely as people. I have the utmost respect for them as colleagues. Just from a people standpoint, they are wonderful people. I really like coaching against them. We learn so much from playing against them.”

The Panthers faced off against Quinnipiac last season at Lakeside Field in the first game of the season and lost 65-7

Quinnipiac has lost two games in a row and Graziano said he is going to try and take advantage of that.

“They may be feeling a little bit vulnerable right now,” he said. “If you can get them to think about their vulnerability, then that may become an advantage for us. But, that comes on the field, while you are playing, by the players.”

Last time out for the Panthers was a game to forget, as they went down to Life University and lost 61-0, and were hampered by injuries, as two Panthers were taken out of the game within the first three minutes.

With having two weeks in between games, that gave both players time to heal their injuries.

Graziano said both players are at 100% and with that, the Panthers are feeling confident heading into this game.

“If you play them to a draw in the first twenty minutes, then you feel really good about your chances,” he said. “We have been struggling to do that for an entire game.  We have not reacted well as a team to where suddenly we lose momentum or suddenly something happens to us.”

Graziano added that if the Panthers can play the Bobcats to a draw within the first twenty minutes of the game, he expects his team to gain some momentum throughout the game.

The Panthers and Bobcats will kick off at 11:00 a.m. Central Time in Hamden, Conn.

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