By: Natalie Van Dyke/GCU Staff
Fighting back from deficits at halftime of all three games, GCU Women’s Club Soccer had a weekend of second half success. The two ties and a loss on the weekend provided the Lopes with a chance to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses against league competition.
Friday: GCU White 2, Arizona Christian 2
Kicking off the weekend Friday night at Colter Field on the GCU Campus, GCU White fell behind, 1-0, despite several Lopes’ scoring opportunities. After numerous first-half shots on goal, the Lopes finally capitalized in the 30th minute with the game-tying shot by GCU’s Peyton McCrea. The tie didn’t last long, since Arizona Christian University scored shortly thereafter to gain the 2-1 advantage into halftime.
“Last week after a pretty poor result against Ottawa, I told GCU White that somebody needed to step up and be a leader,” said Lopes Head Coach Hannah Bolton. “While I don’t see one individual standing out and stepping up, I see the team being extremely selfless and playing with grit.”
The Lopes held ACU scoreless throughout the second half, and that defense allowed them to catch the Firestorm. An ACU penalty midway through the half gave GCU a free kick from the top of the 18-yard box. GCU freshman Aubrey Reay sent the ball over the head of the ACU goalkeeper to tie the game and score the final goal of the night.
“Big plays give us that momentum to show our grit,” said Reay. “No matter what the scoreboard says, we can still win the half or the next 10 minutes.”
Saturday: GCU Purple 3, Northern Arizona University 3
“It wasn’t our best performance,” said Bolton. “It was just one of those games where the ball took weird bounces and skips, and we weren’t as prepared as we needed to be.”
A slow start for GCU Purple allowed two goals from Northern Arizona in the first half Saturday afternoon at Prescott Field, and gave the Lumberjacks a 2-0 lead at the half.
After NAU scored again early in the second half, GCU came storming back. After Lexi Baca finally got the Lopes on the scoreboard, Hannah Rowlands and Mary Brummel scored a goal apiece to help the Lopes salvage their second tie of the weekend.
“The team never gave up,” said Bolton. “They controlled what they could control and had a good attitude. I think just their ability to come back in the game is really impressive.”
Sunday: University of Arizona 5, GCU White 3
It wasn’t just the heat from a sweltering September afternoon in Phoenix that was bothering GCU White Sunday, since they felt the heat of a 4-0 deficit to the University of Arizona at halftime.
Neither factor discouraged the team wearing purple, though.
“Most coaches down at halftime look around and see a lot of glum faces and pointing fingers or negative attitudes,” said Bolton. “That’s just not the case with this team. No matter how much they’re down, they always believe that they can get back into it.”
GCU’s Eleni Pappas found the back of the net within the first minute of the second half to put the Lopes on the board. An Arizona infraction in the 68th minute turned into a Brummel goal on an assist by Reay from the set piece, then Baca later added the third goal of the day to narrow the GCU deficit to just one goal.
“All of the girls who scored today pointed out that momentum shift,” said Bolton “By the time we got to Baca’s goal, I think everyone looked around like, ‘We’re actually in this now.’ I really like the confidence.”
Despite the 5-3 loss, the focus of GCU White shifts into using what a match against a talented team like U of A can do for them down the road.
“We’re looking forward to playing more teams like U of A,” said Pappas. “It’s a high level of competition, and it stretches us to come together as a team.”
The Lopes have a full weekend coming up. GCU Purple plays Arizona Christian at Colter Field at 7pm Friday, Sept. 20, while GCU White faces Arizona State University in Tempe at the same time. GCU Purple takes on GCU White on Saturday, Sept. 21 at 10 am at Colter Field. GCU White will close the weekend on Sunday, Sept. 22 against Northern Arizona University at Prescott Field at 2 pm. Admission to all home matches is FREE.