Lopes conclude California Conference play this weekend Saturday at home
By: Mack Drake/GCU Staff
Photo Credit: Gillian Rea
The game may have been played in the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean, but it felt like a home game for the Grand Canyon University Men’s Rugby team.
Fueled by a primarily purple and white crowd, the Lopes put on a dominant road showing in a 45-3 rout of San Diego State University Saturday in California Conference action.
Currently listed at No. 19 in the current D1A Rugby rankings, GCU improved to 4-1 in conference play while San Diego State dropped to 0-4. St. Mary’s College of California still leads the conference with a perfect 6-0 mark.
Many GCU players are from the San Diego area, leading to a sea of Lopes’ fans infiltrating Aztec territory to lend support.
“It almost felt like a home game for us,” said GCU flyhalf Dom Iacovino. “The sidelines were full of purple and it was awesome. Playing in front of family and friends always adds some pressure to play better, so it gave myself and the boys the right motivation to go out and get the job done.”
Tries by Ronnie Sallee, Jake Burns, Lincoln Sii, Sam Muter, Cameron Johnston and Riley Miller helped GCU cruise to the victory. Sallee, Burns, Sii and Muter all scored in the first half as the Lopes entered intermission with a commanding 33-0 advantage.
Royce Fisher booted five conversions in the win.
“We finally got the continuity we’ve been looking for all season between our backs and forwards,” Iacovino said. “The big fellas up front dominated SDSU’s forwards, and that allowed us backs to move around and have some fun.”
A late Aztec penalty kick negated what would have been the second shutout of the season for the Lopes. Up 45-0, San Diego State tacked on a three-point kick to prevent the shutout.
Iacovino pointed to good strategy and fundamentals for the quality defensive outing.
“Our defensive effort came from dominating the possession time and just playing good, sound defense,” he said. “When SDSU did have the ball, our line speed and physicality put a lot of pressure on them and forced some mistakes.”
GCU will conclude California Conference play on Saturday with a home matchup against the University of California, Davis at the GCU Practice Soccer Field. The Aggies enter the showdown with a 2-3 conference record and sit in fifth place. Kickoff is scheduled for 11 am, and admission is FREE.
Adding fuel to the fire, it will be Senior Day for the Lopes.
“It’s a huge game for us,” Iacovino said. “I speak for myself and all the underclassmen in saying that we want this one for our seniors. This could be their last home game, and we want to send our seniors off with a win. We’re playing for them on Saturday.”
Interested in joining GCU Men’s Rugby? Contact the coach to learn more!