GCU Women’s Rugby ends first season under new Head Coach Lindsey Mahoney
By: Taylor Browne/GCU Staff
Photo Credit: Jeff Dalton
It was the Lopes’ fourth season – with an incomplete finale.
In a season built around a new coaching staff, the Grand Canyon University Women’s Rugby season was cut short right before the Pacific Desert Rugby Conference (PDRC) Playoffs on April 4 in Tucson. The Lopes looked to build on a 5-2-1 overall season record while seeking their second conference title in three years.
In their second year competing in the PDRC, the Lopes displayed a strong team under their first-ever full-time head coach, Lindsey Mahoney. The former Arizona State University star helped reestablish what culture looked like this season.
“At the beginning of the season, I was not sure that the girls would buy into being process-driven with a goal of building a strong culture,” said Mahoney. “They surprised me when they began to put the relationships on the team first. Girls who had very little in common ended up becoming a family, and they started to fight for this culture – both leaders and first-year players.”
“Her skills as a coach are very evident, but what’s even more noteworthy is her grace and care for her athletes,” said Lopes’ senior Jaime Massey. “Coach Lou (Mahoney’s nickname) gives each of her players a home – on and off the field.”
With a schedule of eight regular season games, the Lopes faced some of the top teams in the country. GCU hosted five of their eight games, including a matchup against 2019 defending national champion Brigham Young University. The Lopes also hosted the archrival ASU Sun Devils, as well as California State University, Northridge, in the 6,000-seat GCU Stadium.
The Lopes ended their season on a high note, defeating University of California, San Diego, 28-17, and University of California, Los Angeles, 17-15, in San Diego in the span of just 27 hours in early March.
“While it is tough that our season was short-lived due to COVID-19, this was the best way we could have ended,” said Mahoney. “We worked all season to become a rugby family, and that weekend showed that we did that. Our culture was not about winning, and yet we showed that our culture of family, accountability, hard work and respect can bring wins.”
While the team did not get to defend their abilities in the playoffs, in many ways, they were able to defend their potential throughout the season.
The fourth season of the program also ended with a final goodbye for a chosen few. Massey and fellow seniors Amanda Garcia and Hannah Hulbert have all been teammates for two years or more. Massey was one of the program’s first recruits and part of the Lopes’ inaugural team back in 2016.
“This season could have gone any direction,” said Mahoney. “Many times, we had the cards stacked against us, but the girls were incredibly resilient, and we experienced some incredible success on the field. However, the biggest success was seeing 23 girls from all different walks of life become a family. These girls have made some lifelong friendships, and I am incredibly grateful that God entrusted me with this group of girls this season.”