By: David Carter/GCU Staff
So far, things seem to be starting off fairly well for GCU Men’s Club Soccer.
That practice time will be even more essential for the Lopes than other club programs, since they actually kick off the 2019-20 club sports calendar with their first matchup this Saturday, Aug. 31.
Even with their first matches just over a day away, Thompson already has a good idea of how he wants the identity of his team to look.
“We want to make sure we are aligning the right student-athletes with the club,” said Thompson. “Ideally, we want kids that have a high level of intrinsic desire. They want to be the best version of themselves. They have a burning desire to be successful – on and off the field – including academically, their relationships and soccer standards as well.”
Thompson also has spent the last several months trying to increase the level of success and opportunities for his players and his program by creating a new nine-team Southwest Conference with a more consistent schedule. Other than there being two Lopes’ teams competing in the new conference this year (GCU Purple and GCU White), the average fan may not notice a big difference.
“The schedule is identical in that they are in the same league,” said Thompson. “Purple and White are in the same conference, but different pods are used for scheduling. Each team plays two different teams twice.”
GCU Purple will be in the same division with University of Arizona and Arizona State University, while GCU White will be paired with Northern Arizona University and Arizona Christian University. The top four teams at the end of the regular season will advance to the Southwest Conference Tournament in late October.
The two Lopes’ teams will prepare for the conference’s stretch drive by taking a break from conference play in late September to compete in the always-competitive Aztec Cup in San Diego, California.
“The Aztec Cup is a good measure for us to compare ourselves to the western region,” said Thompson. “The Purple team has an extremely tough bracket, since they face the University of California-Berkeley “A” team, Weber State University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo,” said Thompson. “GCU White is playing UC-Berkeley’s “B” team and Cal Poly Pomona.”
The Lopes open up regular season play this weekend as both teams face New Mexico Tech at Prescott Field on the GCU campus. GCU White will face the Miners on Saturday, Aug. 31 at 7 pm, then GCU Purple squares off against NMT on Sunday, Sept. 1 at 10 am.