Lopes honor seniors on Senior Day
By: Taylor Browne/GCU Staff
Big crowd. Big stadium. Exciting ending.
In a thrilling back-and-forth match Sunday at GCU Stadium, the Grand Canyon University Women’s Rugby played to a 14-14 draw against Cal-State University Northridge. The Lopes rallied to a tie after a disappointing 43-19 loss to University of Arizona in their last home game.
“The score didn’t reflect how the girls played,” said Lopes’ Head Coach Lindsey Mahoney. “We fought hard. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to capitalize on those potential tries, but the girls played incredibly well.”
Between the high energy on the sidelines and constant battle between both teams, GCU left the field on a positive note. Despite being down five starters, the Lopes put plenty of pressure on CSUN’s defense. After the Matadors scored the first try in the first five minutes of the game, the Lopes answered back with a try by Temprist Smith and successful two-point conversion by Heather Thomas, to tie the game 7-7.
The two roaring defenses kept that score in tact until the 65th minute when the Matadors put the pressure on the Lopes with a try and successful conversion. In the waning moments, though, the Loeps fought back to salvage the draw on a try by Amberae Falemalu, and conversion by Thomas.
“Defense was a huge focus since the last game,” said Mahoney. “The girls changed their mentality in how they played defense. We got more aggressive, and as a result, we created more turnovers.”
“This game was surreal,” added Lopes’ senior Jaime Massey. “It’s weird stepping onto that field for the last time. However, we proved ourselves in this game. Other teams were preparing for us this season, and we showed other teams what we are capable of.”
Prior to Sunday’s kickoff, the Lopes honored Massey and fellow seniors Amanda Garcia and Hannah Hulbert on the pitch.
“I’m going to miss so much about these seniors,” said Mahoney. “They bring a lot of heart and such a good attitude. Most of them are founders of the original team, and we’re going to miss that history of GCU Rugby.”
The three seniors 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.
“There are only three of us left who started the program,” said Massey. “We had a great couple of years in the beginning. People started to recognize the program and were surprised how well we were competing.”
For Massey, being a part of GCU’s Women’s Rugby was more than playing a sport.
“The comradery and love for the game is unlike any other sport,” said Massey. “GCU has a special program, where we’ve built a close relationship with the men’s side of the program. We support each other at every home game. You don’t see that at every other school, and that has improved me as a player and a person.”
The Lopes look to their next game against University of California, San Diego on March 7.