By Jesse Vineyard/GCU Staff
What a time to start playing your best lacrosse of the year.
On Senior Day at Prescott Field, sixth-ranked Grand Canyon University Men’s Lacrosse put up a program-best in shots and season-high in goals, and rolled to a 19-8 victory over the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.
GCU’s 69 shots is the most ever for the Lopes, breaking the previous mark of 64 shots against the University of San Diego in the first game of the 2015 season.
The graduating seniors of Weston Gotuzzo, Josh Gruwell, Brad Hookom, Jack Lamey, Kevin Regan and Jordan Vicente were honored before the game with commemorative jerseys and framed team photos. All are part of a class that has won 51 games heading into the conference tournament for an overall winning percentage of 86 percent.
“It was a great day,” Lopes’ Head Coach Manny Rapkin said. “You can’t believe how quickly four years goes by. These seniors are some of the best we’ve ever had. I’m proud of all of them.”
The ceremony set the stage for what would be the largest offensive output of the season. GCU (9-2) jumped out to a 4-0 lead within the first six minutes with goals from Cooper Snowbarger, Logan Phillips and two from Cam Wengreniuk. UNLV’s Quinton Eissler put the Rebels on the board at 7:41, but Harrison Wartes and Jordan Vicente added the next two to give GCU a 6-1 lead after the first quarter.
GCU’s shooting range continued throughout with Cody Clark leading the way. The Lopes scored five times in the second quarter with Clark adding three of them for his fourth straight “hat trick” (and seventh of the season). Clark added three more goals in the third – all in a 90-second span – for a game-high six goals, the second time Clark has scored six in a game this season.
The Lopes threw 23 shots on net in the second quarter and 20 in the third to lead 17-6 after three. Harrison and Alex Wartes each scored in the fourth to seal off the win. Vicente, Lamey and Gotuzzo all scored on Senior Day, while Snowbarger and Kyle Crews both had two goals for the Lopes.
The win also secures a first-round bye for the Lopes in the 2018 Southwestern Lacrosse Conference Championship Tournament, beginning this weekend. It is the fourth straight season the Lopes have earned the bye as the No. 1 seed out of the SLC South Division. Chapman earned the No. 1 seed out of the North.
GCU will play the winner of this weekend’s first-round game between No. 3 North seed California-Santa Barbara and No. 2 North seed Concordia-Irvine April 27 in the semifinals at La Costa Canyon High School in Carlsbad, California.
“We get a week to rest,” Rapkin said. “It’ll be a short week of just working on getting back to the basics. To do what we’ve done and send our seniors out with another divisional championship, we just look forward to try to win another conference championship.”