The Grand Canyon University women’s lacrosse team was reminded that it can be challenged but it still has not shown that it can beaten.
Since the second-ranked Lopes last faced fourth-ranked Concordia, they had rolled against five consecutive opponents by a whopping average victory margin of 15.8 goals before facing Concordia again on Sunday.
The Lopes were tested but repeated as Western Women’s Lacrosse League Division 2 champions by pulling away from Concordia down the stretch for a 12-9 victory in Morgan Hill, Calif..
GCU moved to 12-0 with sophomore midfielder Lexi Ortt scoring half of the team’s goals and sophomore midfielder Brianna Healy being named the WWLL Most Valuable Player. In a game that was tied 6-6 at halftime, the Lopes were clinging to a 10-9 lead entering the final four minutes before Ortt sealed the championship with her fifth and sixth goals.
“Though you could tell the girls were getting frustrated, I was so proud of them for never giving up,” GCU coach Tracy Gallihugh said. “They kept their heads up and fought from start to finish. You could tell they wanted this win and, with all their hard work, they definitely deserved it.”
Healy added three goals, three caused turnovers and seven draw controls in the win while Lopes junior attacker Kelsey Wood also scored three goals. GCU advanced to Sunday’s championship game by beating Nevada, 19-6, on Saturday, when Ortt scored seven goals and Wood added six.
In Sunday’s title game, the Lopes raced to a 5-0 lead after the team emerged like Gallihugh never had seen.
“They had fire, teamwork, confidence and the full desire to come home as the champions,” Gallihugh said.
Healy, Ortt, Wood, sophomore goalkeeper Caitlin Paine and sophomore defender Maddie Magoon each were named all-WWLL first team for GCU while Lopes junior attacker Meghan Payne was named to the second team.
“I always knew how talented our team was,” Gallihugh said. “They all work extremely hard every day and their passion and intensity are noticeable every time they walk on the field. They play with fire and the utmost skill. I am so glad to see that others were able to see this as well.”
The Lopes will play in the Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse Associates’ Division 2 National Championship, which starts May 11 in Salt Lake City. GCU trailed Denver Club by one poll point in last week’s WCLA Division 2 national rankings.
“If the girls continue to push themselves to improve each day, then there is no doubt in my mind that they will bring home the national title,” Gallihugh said. “They are all beyond excited for this opportunity and fueled with momentum and fire to succeed. I cannot wait to see how they play in nationals. They are an amazing team right now but I know that they will be even more incredible during nationals.”