By David Carter/GCU Club Sports Web Marketing Intern
The No. 13 GCU Men’s Lacrosse (2-3) team had one of their best games of the season – if not their best – as they defeated No. 19 Colorado State University, 18-9, Saturday afternoon at GCU’s Prescott Field.
“It was a must win,” said GCU Men’s Lacrosse Head Coach Manny Rapkin. “We needed it. We needed it really bad.”
After CSU scored the first goal 90 seconds into the game, Lopes’ attackman Cody Clark tied the game 30 seconds later. CSU answered two minutes after that to take a 2-1 lead.
It would be the Rams’ last lead.
The Lopes exploded for five goals in the final eight minutes of the first quarter – thanks to two goals from GCU attackman Cam Wengreniuk, another from Clark, and single goals from long-stick midfielder Justin Hart and attackman Ryan McDonald.
The Lopes continued to pad their lead in the second quarter, with Wengreniuk and freshman midfielder Ayden Garwood leading the way with two goals apiece. The Rams scored the final two goals of the quarter to cut the Lopes’ lead to 11-5 heading into half-time.
After seeing big leads evaporate in the last two games, the Lopes suddenly heard footsteps to start the third quarter. After trading with the Rams for a pair of goals each, the Rams used a Lopes’ penalty to close out the quarter with a pair of goals to cut GCU’s lead to four at the end of the period, 13-9.
This time, though, instead of seeing their offense shrink in the 4th quarter, the Lopes found their rhythm on both ends of the field. Spencer Tate, Clark and freshman J.D. Gilbault scored within a five-minute span to blow the game open, and the Lopes’ young defense clamped down to shut out the Rams in the final 15 minutes to snap GCU’s brief two-game losing skid.
Part of that defensive improvement was in the net, where freshman Jackson Burgess made his first start, and helped hold a Lopes’ opponent under ten goals for the first time this season with 23 saves.
Once again, face-offs were a major reason for the Lopes’ success, as was the senior leadership on the attack. Wengreniuk and Clark both registered four goals each, and Garwood – a freshman who scored his first career goal Thursday against Colorado – joined them in the four-goal department.
“We came out with a hot start,” said Lopes’ faceoff specialist Matt Tirpak, who was crucial in giving GCU possession when they went on their first-quarter scoring run. “The boys were firing right away. We just showed great determination to hold them off and get the win today.”
Every one of the Lopes’ five opponents on this homestand is currently ranked in the MCLA Coaches’ Poll, and the finale of the home swing will be no different as a hungry 12th-ranked Brigham Young University team comes to GCU next Saturday, March 9.
“It’s a year with a lot of parity (in the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association),” said Rapkin. “There a lot of teams who normally do not have two or three losses this time of year. BYU is another team who will be playing with a sense of urgency. They are a talented team with a couple of losses.”
GCU will face BYU on Saturday, March 9 at 1 pm at GCU’s Prescott Field. Admission is FREE.