Lopes held to single second-half goal in 22-11 loss
By: Jim Howell/GCU Club Sports Information Director
Big stage. Bigger opponent.
Playing on GCU’s biggest outdoor stadium for the first time in their history, the Grand Canyon University Women’s Lacrosse team hung with the University of Arizona for a half, but couldn’t sustain the same offensive pace after halftime, falling to the Wildcats, 22-11, Friday night at GCU Stadium on the GCU campus. The loss prevented the Lopes from getting over the .500 mark in conference play for the first time since joining the Western Women’s Lacrosse League (WWLL) two years ago. It also allowed the previously winless Wildcats (1-5 overall, 1-2 WWLL) to tie the Lopes (3-7 overall, 1-2 WWLL) for 3rd place in the league with 2 games left to play.
The Lopes came into the matchup with the confidence of knowing they had defeated U of A twice during the fall scrimmage season, but fell behind early Friday afternoon, and never got over the hump offensively. They also had extra adrenaline at the opening face-off, thanks to Senior Day Festivities prior to the game for the Lopes’ five seniors: Kami Campbell, Kelli Huynh, Taylor Lipinski, Lexi Ortt and McKenzie Portugal. However, that extra emotion may have worked against them.
“We had a slow start,” said Lopes’ Head Coach Tracy Gallihugh. “Our warmups were not as intense as usual, because there was a lot of things going on.”
Ortt continued to show why she’s been the team’s leading scorer all season long, racking up 5 goals and 2 assists to help get the Lopes even midway through the 1st half at 7-7. The Wildcats responded to build a late first-half lead, but Lopes’ freshman Emily Blankenship’s 4 goals helped the Lopes finish off their best offensive first halves of the season while still trailing, 14-10, heading into the half.
Then the Lopes’ mistakes started piling up, and the team who’d scored 23 goals in the span of three halves (following a team-high 13 in a one-goal win over University of San Diego last week) saw their offense disappear.
“We were in our own heads about mistakes, and we couldn’t shake it off,” said Gallihugh. “As we lost confidence, U of A gained theirs, and that’s when the game fell apart. Our biggest downfalls were shot placements, ground balls and a lack of communication.”
The Lopes were outscored, 8-1, in the final 30 minutes of play, allowing a season-high in goals to their opponents. Lipinski and Lopes’ freshman Jessie Whyte each scored goals to round out the scoring. The Lopes’ quest for their first-ever playoff berth in Division I play rests on two games in the span of 48 hours next weekend. GCU’s home finale happens next Friday night, April 5 when they host the team just ahead of them in the WWLL Standings, Arizona State University (4-4 overall, 2-1 WWLL), before ending the season with a chance for revenge against Arizona next Sunday night in Tucson. Opening faceoff between the Lopes and Sun Devils next Friday night is scheduled for 8:30 pm at GCU Stadium, following the GCU-ASU matchup in men’s lacrosse at 6:30 pm. Admission to the doubleheader is FREE.