The Grand Canyon University men’s lacrosse team is opening the postseason right where it wants to end it – as the nation’s No. 1 team.
The Lopes were unveiled as the new No. 1 team in the latest Under Armour Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association Coaches Division 1 Poll on Wednesday. GCU (10-1) was the runaway choice for the top billing, earning 21 of the 25 first-place votes.
“We want to get the highest seed possible for the easiest road but we’re just thinking about the next game now,” GCU coach Manny Rapkin said. “We want to win. We have a bitter taste from last year’s conference championship and we want to take care of business.”
The Lopes take a seven-game winning streak into the playoffs and earned a first-round bye in the Southwestern Lacrosse Conference playoffs in Carlsbad, Calif., as the SLC South Division regular-season champion. GCU will play an April 28 SLC semifinal game against the winner of a first-round game between No. 14 California-Santa Barbara and No. 25 Arizona.
GCU has posted seven wins this season against current top-25 teams, including a 14-11 victory against No. 2 Colorado in the season opener and a 9-7 win against No. 7 Arizona State in front of 3,840 fans at GCU Stadium on March 31.
The Lopes spent the entire season in the MCLA’s top five but this week’s poll marks the first time that they have been ranked No. 1 this season.
“It’s a cool feeling because we felt the whole year that we’ve deserved to be No. 1 because we feel like we’re the best,” GCU senior midfielder Lucas de Jong said. “Getting No. 1 comes with a new target on our backs. We’re ready for that. We’ve played with that before. It gives us a new sense of pride but people are chasing us now. They see GCU at No. 1 so they know we’re the best team and they’re coming for us. It adds a little bit more pressure and desire to win.”
GCU, which won the 2015 national championship, will be in the MCLA Division 1 national tournament from May 8 to May 13 in Irvine, Calif., and Orange, Calif.