By: Taylor Browne/GCU Staff
Little strides make big impressions.
Although the Grand Canyon University Women’s Ice Hockey team struggled to come out with a winning season, they came out with extra motivation to move forward. The Lopes ended their season with a 4-11 overall record after facing several nationally ranked teams.
What the Lopes couldn’t deliver in wins, they made up for through improvement. In the 2018-19 season, the Lopes had a total of 26 goals. The Lopes increased that number this past season by 150% (39 goals total) with increased speed and teamwork.
Lopes’ Head Coach Natalie Rossi is always looking to improve each season. In fact, the program has not only grown in skill, but also in mentality.
“Our team’s biggest takeaway and stride this year was learning more about the mental game and controlling what we can control,” said Rossi. “It was a huge part of our season and something that we were able to improve – on and off the ice.”
Progress also looks like defeating No. 11 University of Colorado, 3-1, on Feb. 9 – the only victory over a ranked opponent this season. It was also the ninth consecutive game that GCU had either outshot or tied their opponents in shots on goal.
“Beating CU was definitely the most satisfying moment of the season,” said Rossi. “The girls worked so hard, trusted each other and showed great poise during a difficult game.”
Lopes’ forward Tuesday Chavez and defenseman Kiana Price also earned spots on the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) All-Academic team. To qualify for this award, a student athlete must be at least a junior, and have a cumulative grade point average of 3.2 or higher.
“This season was filled with growth – both on and off the ice,” said Rossi. “Our players faced a lot of adversity throughout the season, and we came out of the season stronger and better than before. We were able to not only grow on the ice, but to continue to develop our culture and give back to our community—which are big parts of our mission.”