By David Carter/GCU Staff
”At the end of the day, we are all playing for a national championship,” said GCU Men’s Lacrosse defenseman Angelo Abante. “If we can just get the details down, and succeed at the little things, that is going to matter the most.”
Playing for a national championship is not out the question for the Lopes, since they won the MCLA National Championship in 2015 and 2017, and have been a part of the MCLA National Championship tournament the last four seasons.
“If your expectation is to play past the regular season, every matchup is important,” said GCU Men’s Lacrosse Head Coach Manny Rapkin. “It is a lot like college football. Every game has a tremendous amount of importance.”
Along with the on-field contributions and leadership of key players like Abante, Rapkin will also rely on other returning starters such as attackmen Cam Wengreniuk, Kyle Crews and Cian Peterson, as well as defenseman D.J. Hazell to pick up where they left off in 2018.
Rapkin also expects first year starters such as goalie Jamie McKay and long-stick middie Aidan Ryan to take that next step in 2019.
The Lopes have nine of their 11 regular season matchups this year at home, compared to four last year.
“It can be a good thing and a bad thing,” said Abante. “It can be bad because trips help us bond and we spend a lot of the day traveling together. Just being at home, we have a lot of support at GCU and a lot of our families come get to see us play.”
The support at GCU is very important, especially when they have the chance to face their two in-state rivals, University of Arizona (March 29) and Arizona State University (April 5), at home at GCU Stadium.
Sunday’s Season Opener
“This is one of the earliest games we have had in my time here. We have had three weeks less than normal to prepare.”
Those words from Rapkin indicate how early the 2019 season is beginning compared to past seasons as they begin play against Santa Clara University (SCU) this Sunday.
“They are a team on the rise, and they return most of their roster from last year,” said Rapkin. “Last season was their best season in ten years, losing in their conference semifinals.”
Rapkin is not the only one who notices Sunday’s challenges.
“This game is going to be a big curve for us,” said Wengreniuk. “We are going to have to come out and be able to do stuff that we would want to do later in the season. It is certainly going to be a big learning experience coming in without as much practice time.”
The Lopes open their 2019 campaign against SCU this Sunday at noon at GCU’s Prescott Field.
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