By: Julie Laugel/GCU Staff
Pride and leadership help grow a budding program
“It just feels like there was zero closure to such a promising season,” said GCU Club Ultimate Senior Captain Micah Gross.
In only their fifth year as a program, the Grand Canyon University Club Ultimate team had big expectations for the end of the 2019-20 season. Before the remainder of their season was cancelled due to the coronavirus, the Lopes participated in three tournaments, including the Canyon Classic, New Year Fest, and President’s Day Qualifier to amass an 8-9 overall record.
“It was great to have the opportunity to lead younger captains and help them figure out their new leadership roles,” said Gross. “As a third-season captain, it’s great to see people step up and be passionate about growing the program.”
“Our rookie captains started becoming leaders and role models on the team,” said Lopes’ Co-Head Coach Jesse Schwartz. “Their good habits – on and off the field – were impressive, and the strides they made will make this team a great, positive environment for seasons to come.”
GCU hosted their first regular season tournament of the season, the Canyon Classic, in mid-November. They finished 1-2 on their home turf, including a sudden-death victory over Northern Arizona University. In their next competition, the Lopes went 3-4 at the New Year Fest after playing a total of seven games in just two days.
In what would be their last tournament of the season, the Lopes went 4-3 at the President’s Day Qualifier, including a 9-3 win over Arizona State University (Pleasure).
“Pleasure is a team that we usually struggle against, and we came out early in Day 2 and put in work,” said Schwartz.
“We knew they were pretty good, and they had steamrolled everyone at New Year Fest the weekend before,” said Gross. “To go up by (as many points as we did) in the first half and pretty much just have to play defense all game was great. Players like Jake Paulson really played some great defense that game, which had a big impact on the outcome.”
Confidence was high coming off the win over ASU, and hopes were high about the Lopes’ possible fortunes for the USA Ultimate Desert D1 Sectionals in April and possible qualifying for USA Ultimate Southwest Region Regional Tournament (which would have been held in early May), but the Lopes never got there –thanks to coronavirus cancellations. Despite that, the dedication and leadership from the team helped create a positive environment and mindset for the future.
“This was easily our best season performance-wise, and I was confident we would find ourselves at the regional tournament this year,” said Gross. “It is incredibly difficult to have built a program for four years and have it end this way, but I couldn’t be more proud of the groundwork we have laid for teams to come.”
“I believe that GCU was going to make a name for themselves in the section this year at conference as a team to fear,” said Schwartz. “This was GCU’s breakout year in terms of chemistry on and off the field, creating an identity for the team, and setting the bar for what this program can and will become.”
VanGerpen paced the Lopes’ offense with 22 total season goals, followed by Nunn and Max Lovrak with 17 each. Gross led the Lopes in assists with 38, followed by Nunn and Grant Goodman with 22 assists each.
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