By: Chase Gardiner/GCU Staff
Despite getting off to a fast start at the annual Aztec Cup in San Diego, California, the Grand Canyon University Men’s Club Soccer team were unable to survive pool play to reach the championship bracket of the tournament. The Lopes finished with a 1-2 record at the tournament-hosted by San Diego State University.
After reaching the championship match in last year’s tournament, expectations were high for the Lopes this past weekend, and their opening match did nothing to lower those hopes. In their first game of the tournament Friday, the Lopes matched up against the host SDSU Aztecs, who the Lopes soundly defeated, 4-1. Saturday brought much stiffer competition, however. The Lopes stayed neck-and-neck with their next opponent, the University of Utah, before falling to the Utes, 2-1. In the final game of pool play, GCU went head-to-head with the University of Gonzaga in a very tight matchup. The Zags scored the lone goal of the defensive-minded match to prevent the Lopes from advancing to Sunday’s competition.
Despite an unsavory 1-2 record, Lopes Head Coach Lance Thompson was exceptionally pleased with the way his team competed.
“Our theme for the whole tournament this weekend was to be more focused on our individual tactics and the improvement of key areas-rather than the actual results,” said Thompson. “After spending a few weeks focused solely on defensive responsibility, we finally saw some improvement, as we only gave up four goals over three games-two of which were penalty kicks. So in terms of our improvement, we were super successful.”
Although the defensive prowess of the men’s team was visibly improved over the weekend, they are well aware that their process of improvement is far from over.
“The big emphasis for the team this week will revolve around our attack, and specifically our offensive responsibilities in the final third of the game,” said Thompson. “Now that we’ve cleaned (the defensive) part of our game up, it’s time to start working on the attack aspect.”
These improvements on both ends of the ball will be imperative for the Lopes, who face a relatively tough schedule during the month of October. Included in their 5 October matches are two against Arizona State University, and an important rematch against the University of Arizona-two opponents that stand between the Lopes and the postseason.
“We just have to stay positive and keep the big picture in mind,” said Thompson. “We have a really nice squad this year that is capable of doing great things and going really far. As long as they keep the big picture in mind and keep striving forward, they will be just fine.”
The first step towards the postseason begin this Saturday as the Lopes will look to implement their improvements at home against Arizona Christian University. Game time is 11 am at Prescott Field on GCU’s campus, and admission is free.
Interested in joining the Men’s Club Soccer team? Contact the coach to learn more!