In 10 consecutive games, the Grand Canyon University men’s lacrosse team has scored in double digits and held the opponent to single digits.
That surefire formula for victory has put the top-ranked Lopes in the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association quarterfinals after GCU stomped Northeastern, 18-6, in a first-round national tournament game Monday evening in Irvine, Calif.
GCU (13-1) will play again Tuesday in Irvine against rival Arizona State, which it beat 9-7 on March 31 at home and 10-9 in the Southwestern Lacrosse Conference championship eight days ago.
The Lopes briefly were contested Monday by Northeastern when it was 4-2 late in the first quarter but GCU peppered the Huskies with three goals in a 38-second span in the quarter’s final minute. That began a string of 10 unanswered Lopes goals with the GCU defense holding Northeastern scoreless for more than 24 minutes of play.
GCU sophomore attacker Cam Wengreniuk outscored Northeastern by himself with a career-high eight goals. Wengreniuk was limited by injury in the Lopes’ Southwestern Lacrosse Championship victory but was back at full strength Monday, scoring the Lopes’ first two goals by moving from behind the net and driving the middle. He ended the first quarter on a quick-strike goal with four seconds to play for a 7-2 lead. When the Lopes had gone more than 13 minutes of the third quarter without scoring, Wengreniuk backhanded his seventh goal off a Joe Balestrieri assist for a 15-6 lead with eight seconds remaining.
That still was enough time for GCU to tack on another goal when freshman Cole McLafferty won the draw and SLC Defensive Player of the Year Jack Lamey picked up the loose ball, ran the right side and found Balestrieri, the SLC Offensive Player of the Year, for a buzzer-beating goal and a 16-6 lead after three quarters. Balestrieri added six goals, which was one shy of his career high.
“We were getting slides on the strong side and late recoveries on the weak side,” GCU coach Manny Rapkin said. “Cam was able to do his thing one-on-one.”
Freshman midfielder Cooper Snowbarger, sophomore midfielder Jordan Vicente, senior midfielder Lucas de Jong and freshman midfielder Cian Peterson also added goals for GCU, who received another strong effort from a defense led by Lamey, senior Brandon Suchand and junior goalkeeper Alex Larson. The Lopes have allowed 8.1 goals per game this season.
“Lamey had five ground balls and took away their big middie (midfielder) most of the game and Suchie (Suchand) played their big lefty well,” Rapkin said.