By: David Carter/GCU Staff (Photo courtesy of Gillian Rea)
New year. New season. New schedule.
Most importantly? A fresh new start.
The Grand Canyon University Men’s Lacrosse has officially released its 2020 regular season schedule. For the first time in five years, the Lopes will head into their February opener without having reached the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association National Championships the year before.
Despite the 5-8 season, the team finished No. 22 in the Top 25 Under Armour MCLA Coaches Final Poll, and their head coach sees the 2019 experience as a benefit for 2020.
“The big thing is to learn from their mistakes,” said Lopes’ Head Coach Manny Rapkin. “They have a year of experience. They are also a year older, should be a year stronger, a year faster and more accustomed to what it is like to be a college athlete.”
Eight of the Lopes’ 12 regular season matchups will be against teams who finished in the Top 25 Poll a year ago. This includes a six-game stretch to finish out the regular season – all against ranked squads: Brigham Young University (No. 15), University of Washington (No. 24), Concordia University-Irvine (No. 11), in-state rivals Arizona State University (No. 8) and University of Arizona (No. 17), and one team that the Lopes have a history with: No. 3 Chapman University, who the Lopes defeated to win their second national title in 2017.
The Panthers also beat GCU this past April in the Southwestern Lacrosse Conference Championship Semifinals to end GCU’s season two steps short of nationals.
Why stack the schedule with such strong weekly foes?
“We challenge our players via the schedule so they can progress as players and people,” said Rapkin. “We wouldn’t be accomplishing much if we made things easy.”
The Chapman matchup will be one of two feature games the Lopes will hold at GCU Stadium. The Lopes and Panthers will meet March 27 at 7 pm for Canyon Christian Schools Consortium Fly-in Night, and two days later, the Lopes will host CUI at noon for Arizona High School Day.
The 2020 schedule will have a twist to it, since the SLC has realigned. Last year’s 10-team contingent is now eight, which will reduce the number of conference games to seven, merge the two divisions into one and reduce the number of playoff games needed to get to nationals.
“Two conference playoff postseason spots have been eliminated,” said Rapkin. “The top four teams go to the conference championship. There are no play-in games into the conference championship. Every conference game now has increased importance.”
As always, the Lopes will offer fans a ‘sneak peek’ at the team during the fall – first by clashing with some of the greats of GCU Men’s Lacrosse past in the Alumni Game on Friday, Oct. 25 at 7 pm, then hosting Arizona State University in the Fall Game on Saturday, Nov. 2 at 1 pm. Both games are FREE and will be at GCU’s Prescott Field.
Head over to the GCU Men’s Lacrosse page to view the entire schedule for the 2019-20 season.