By David Carter/GCU Club Sports Web Marketing Intern
Despite getting 42 shots on goal, GCU Men’s Lacrosse converted just a season-low three goals in a 10-3 loss to their Tucson rivals, No. 13 University of Arizona, on a loud and raucous Friday night at GCU Stadium. The game was physical as a total of 12 penalties were called between the two teams, and several big hits caused the teams to be separated on one occasion, and sent one player to the sideline with concussion-like symptoms. The aggressiveness of the Wildcats’ defense – especially near the crease – affected the Lopes’ scoring prowess as the game wore on.
“We are a young team,” reflected GCU Men’s Lacrosse Head Coach Manny Rapkin. “We had nine freshmen on the field. Our leading scorer (attackman Cam Wengreniuk) did not play. We have to get technically better. We are just not there yet.”
The Lopes went toe-to-toe offensively with the Wildcats in a back-and-forth first quarter. U of A scored less than two minutes into the game, but the Lopes fought back four minutes later when attackman Ryan McDonald scored on an assist from defenseman David Kravec. U of A took the lead back with just under five minutes left, then Lopes midfielder Kyle Crews scored a goal off an assist from attackman Cody Clark to knot the game up with 2 minutes left in the quarter. Arizona’s Peyton Boyd answered back just 40 seconds later to put the ‘Cats up, 3-2, after the first period.
That would be the closest the Lopes would get to the lead. In the second quarter, U of A scored three goals in the opening seven minutes to take a 6-2 edge. The Lopes had “man advantage” opportunities to get back into the game –including a three-minute span when Wildcats’ midfielder Colton Lloyd received a heavy penalty for an illegal body check to the head of a Lopes player – but the Lopes were unable to capitalize. The Lopes finally found a reason for hope when Lopes’ midfielder Cam Gilmore scored an unassisted goal with one second remaining in the first half to narrow the Wildcats’ lead to 6-3.
Much of the second half was a defensive stalemate, but while Arizona found a couple of quick scoring opportunities – pumping two goals into the net in a 40-second span in the 3rd, then another two goals within four minutes in the 4th – the Lopes’ shots always found the stick of UA goalie Wyatt Hill, or went wide of the net entirely.
Notable Lopes’ players include sophomore defenseman D.J. Hazell, junior long-stick midfielder Aidan Ryan, and freshman midfielder/face-off specialist J.D. Guilbault, who all secured five ground balls for the Lopes in the game. Guilbault also won nine of the 13 faceoffs he competed in.
While the loss dropped to Lopes to 3-6 overall, GCU’s playoff destiny is still in its own hands.
“We are going to play No. 4 Arizona State University next week, and then if we get a win against University of Nevada-Las Vegas in Vegas the following week, we are going to play a first-round playoff game somewhere,” emphasized Rapkin. “There is still a lot of season left.” The Lopes will host the No. 4 Sun Devils on Friday, April 5 at 6:30 p.m. at GCU Stadium in their regular season home finale. It will be part of the final men’s-women’s home lacrosse doubleheader of the year as GCU Women’s Lacrosse will take the field against ASU that night at approximately 8:30 pm. Admission to the doubleheader is FREE.