By David Carter/GCU Club Sports Web Marketing Intern
“Considering where we are at, this is about as big of a win we have had in the history of the program.”
GCU Men’s Lacrosse Head Coach Manny Rapkin did not hesitate to mention how ‘big of a win’ it was for the No. 16 GCU Men’s Lacrosse team as they defeated the previously undefeated No. 3 Concordia University Irvine, 12-10, on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in southern California.
This was the Lopes’ first road game, and it just happened to be the Southwestern Lacrosse Conference (SLC) “Game of the Week”. The Lopes came in as considerable underdogs, since they’d dropped 3 of their last 4 games coming in, and CUI defeated last year’s Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association National Champions, No. 12 Michigan State University, a week ago.
“We finally put it all together,” said Rapkin. “We cleared the ball well, shared the ball on offense, and played good defense. Our faceoff specialist (J.D. Guilbault) was outstanding, and our goalie (Jackson Burgess) came up big. The guys knew how big this game was, and they rose to the challenge.”
Guilbault and Burgess certainly ‘rose to the challenge,’ especially considering that Guilbault won over 75% of his faceoffs, and Burgess made many crucial saves throughout the game.
“It was always to attack the ball,” said Burgess on his mentality for the game. “Talk, communicate, and be a field general out there.”
After seven opening minutes of scoreless play, the Lopes struck first when midfielder Cameron Gilmore scored to give the Lopes a 1-0 lead.
Capitalizing off of an Eagles’ penalty, Lopes attackman Cody Clark scored a flashy over-the-shoulder goal to extend GCU’s lead. CUI immediately scored two goals to tie the game at 2-2, but that was the closest the Eagles got to owning the lead.
GCU scored two goals in the final 50 seconds of the 1st as Clark netted his second, and attackman Ryan McDonald added another.
The Lopes continued where they left off to start the 2nd quarter as attackmen Spencer Tate scored once, and Cam Wengreniuk tallied two. CUI scored once more before the half ended to cut the Lopes’ lead to 7-3 at the break.
In the second half, the game was much tighter. In the opening seven minutes of the third quarter, Clark and Gilmore both scored once each to give GCU a 9-3 lead. CUI came roaring back to cut the six-point deficit in half before Wengreniuk scored his third to give GCU a 10-6 lead heading into the final quarter.
The Eagles scored two goals to again halve the deficit, but goals scored from Lopes’ midfielder Ayden Garwood and Wengreniuk (his 4th of the day) put the game out of reach.
“Guys now know what they are capable of doing,” said Rapkin. “We have a 6-0 Utah Valley team coming in on Tuesday with not a lot of time to get ready.”
“We know about (Utah Valley) because they had that lacrosse video that went viral on Twitter a couple of weeks ago,” said Burgess. “We know they are a good team, and on the rise. We are excited to get back out there on Tuesday after this big win.”
The Lopes will face unranked Utah Valley University (who held off Boise State Saturday, 12-11, to stay unblemished) on Tuesday, March 19 at 1 pm at GCU’s Prescott Field. Admission is FREE.