Lopes blank Santa Clara 30-0, fall 69-7 to St. Mary’s
By: Mack Drake/GCU Staff
The Grand Canyon University Men’s Rugby team split its pair of President’s Day weekend games in Northern California, dominating in a 30-0 victory over Santa Clara University on Friday night before falling 69-7 to powerhouse St. Mary’s College of California on Monday.
The results moved the Lopes’ record to 3-2 on the year, and 2-2 in California Conference play. GCU, which entered the weekend as the No. 20 team in the latest Division IA Rugby rankings, won’t play again until March 7 when they travel to Southern California to challenge San Diego State University.
GCU showed off its defensive muscle in Friday night’s 30-0 blanking of Santa Clara. It was the first shutout of the season for the Lopes, who have now held opposing teams to under 20 points in three of their five games.
It was also GCU’s first shutout since a 103-0 smashing of the University of New Mexico on October 21, 2017.
“When looking at our team, there has been a common strongpoint, and that has been our defense,” said GCU Vice Captain Royce Fisher. “Our communication and attention to detail are strong. Our resilience and heart has allowed us to make big defensive stands.”
Jake Burns scored twice, while Roddy Hamilton, Lincoln Sii, Dom Iacovino and Rayden Tuaua each added tries for GCU in the victory.
The defense served as a stopper and an offensive catapult.
“The biggest key on the attack was our support when teammates made line breaks,” said GCU Vice Captain Sam Muter. “Our defensive pressure forced turnovers and helped us score early and often.”
GCU’s bid for a weekend sweep by the Bay was halted by St. Mary’s, the No. 4-ranked team in D1A Rugby and the top team in the California Conference. The Gaels jumped out to an early lead and never looked back in a 69-7 win.
Considered one of the heavyweight rugby programs in the country, St. Mary’s beat GCU twice last season en route to a conference banner, including a victory in the DIA Rugby Playoffs Round of 16 that ended the Lopes’ campaign.
“The thing that really separates St. Mary’s is the culture they have built,” Fisher said. “From A to C side, all the boys over there have bought it. Having a strong atmosphere allows players to grow and develop at faster rates.”
“The toughest part about the St. Mary’s game was staying in the fight for all 80 minutes and not giving up,” Muter added. “They do a phenomenal job with recruiting compared to all other squads we’ve played.”
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