By: Chase Gardiner/GCU Staff
On the heels of a tough 5-2 loss against Arizona State University on Friday, the men’s club soccer team looked to bounce back against another in state rival late Sunday night.
In their first matchup of the season, the Lopes managed to overpower the U of A Wildcats in a 2-0 shutout. Unfortunately for the Lopes, history didn’t repeat itself the second time around as GCU fell just shy in a 3-2 loss.
As the match began, a palpable sense of aggression and urgency filled the air. Both teams came out swinging, as the offenses traded shot after shot, looking for any opportunity to gain an advantage over their rival. That first opportunity came at the end of a 30 minute scoring drought as U of A netted the first goal of the game with 14:30 left to play in the first half. Refusing to be outdone, the Lopes’ Daniel Malki struck back no less than 30 seconds later with GCU’s first goal. The 1-1 tie was short-lived as the Wildcats scored once more before the half, and never lost the lead again.
“That free kick they got in the first half? That was on us,” Lopes’ Head Men’s Club Soccer Coach Lance Thompson told his players at halftime. “We can’t do things to beat ourselves, because they will take advantage of that.” Unfortunately for GCU, Thompson’s advice seemed to fall on deaf ears as the Lopes came out and gave up a penalty kick just over three minutes into the second half.
Down 3-1, GCU spent the last 41 minutes of the match attempting to mount a comeback. GCU’s Jesus Ruiz gave them a sliver of hope with a goal late in the game, but the scoring ended there. The game ended much like it began with neither team scoring in the last 25 minutes of play.
While unwarranted mistakes cost the Lopes dearly, Coach Thompson remained positive about the play of his team. “The big thing we just have to continue to focus on is execution. They’ve got their roles down. They know their responsibilities. It’s just execution. That’s where this team’s at now. It’s that simple.”
GCU will look to clean up its execution quickly as they face the University of Texas at El Paso next Friday, October 13th, in Texas. The two teams battled to a 2-2 tie in their first meeting of the year September 17th at Prescott Field.