By: Taylor Browne/GCU Staff
Photo Credit: Jeff Dalton
First home game jitters are over.
The Grand Canyon University Women’s Rugby kicked off their home opener match Saturday with tough competition against 2019 defending national champion Brigham Young University at GCU’s Practice Soccer Field, and wound up on the downside of a 61-0 shutout loss. The loss evens the Lopes’ overall mark at 1-1.
Despite the lopsided result, however, new Lopes’ Head Coach Lindsey Mahoney saw noticeable improvement while pacing the sideline Saturday afternoon.
“We came into the first 20 minutes really hard,” said Mahoney. “We set them back for a while and came at them hard. I was very proud of our “go forward” and our aggression.”
Even with a dominating loss, Mahoney felt the Lopes handled things in the trenches much better than during their 19-5 win at the University of California – Santa Barbara in last week’s season opener.
“A big thing was our contested possession,” said Mahoney. “That has been one of the biggest principles of play that we have been working on. (During) our last game, we lost a lot of scrums, but this game, we continued to win our scrums to gain penalties off of them.”
The Cougars’ Alisa Baker got BYU on the board with a try (and unsuccessful two-point conversion by Tiana Tolman) to take a 5-0 lead. Tolman added three tries by the end of the match, while BYU’s Marin Spears scored a pair of her own. Spears’ first of the day sent the Cougars to halftime with a 22-0 edge, and they never looked back.
“We saw glimmers of what we want to see this season,” said Mahoney. “We are going to continue to look towards the positives, and the next time that we face them, we will see a full 80 minutes of what we saw in the first 20 minutes.”
“Going into it, a lot of us were nervous,” added Lopes’ back Heather Thomas. “BYU won nationals last year, but I think we put up a fight and showed them what we were capable of. We worked really hard the first half and kept up with them. The second half was hard to keep up that pace, but at the end of the day, I am happy with the effort we put in.”
The Lopes continue their regular season schedule against in-state rival Arizona State University Jan. 25 at 5 pm in Tempe.