By Jesse Vineyard/GCU Staff
In the big stadium, under the big lights, in front of a big crowd, Grand Canyon University Men’s Lacrosse had the night to itself. Everything was set for a showcase, but the Lopes had trouble early setting off the fireworks.
It took until the second half, but GCU ultimately found enough footing to light up the scoreboard, leading to a 13-6 victory over the University of Georgia in front of 1,427 fans at GCU Stadium.
Yet, despite eight different Lopes finding the back of the net, Lopes’ Head Coach Manny Rapkin wasn’t pleased with the result.
“We didn’t come out to play tonight,” Rapkin said. “That’s all I can say about the offense.”
GCU opened up a 2-0 lead in the first quarter thanks to goals from Cam Wengreniuk and Kyle Crews. Wengreniuk’s came one minute in on the opening possession while Crews’ came at the halfway mark of the quarter after the defense started going to work with forced turnovers.
Then Georgia soon began to lock in. On the Bulldogs’ next possession with 5:28 left, Connor Johnson ripped a shot from his right hip to ignite the Georgia sideline. The Bulldog defense then started making stands, leading to Ian Hurley and Steven Lee adding goals of their own in the final two minutes of the quarter – both of which came off forced turnovers from the UGA defense.
The Lopes would come back in the second quarter with two goals in the first two minutes. Cooper Snowbarger scored from the top of the box one minute in, then – 43 seconds later – Wengreniuk capitalized on GCU being a man-up to put GCU back on top, 4-3.
Even though GCU recorded 14 shots in the first half to Georgia’s seven, missed passes and unforced turnovers allowed the Bulldogs to remain within striking distance as GCU led just 6-4 at the half.
A quick second-half surge from the Lopes did what it could to toss away any residual doubt. GCU’s Jordan Vicente took a pass from midfield and rushed into the box with no hesitation on the Lopes’ second possession of the third quarter. An immediate roughing penalty after the goal put GCU a man-up for the next possession, one which Snowbarger exploited to make it 8-4 five minutes into the third. GCU wasn’t finished as just 20 seconds later, Jack Lamey picked up a groundball at midfield and rushed in to fire an overhand rocket, capping a three-goal surge in the opening five minutes of the half.
But that would be it for the rest of the quarter. More missed shots and passes on the ensuing GCU possessions led to Georgia’s Jack Ryan taking advantage of an unnecessary roughing call from the Lopes’ Troy Jacobs with 4:52 remaining in the third, putting the score at 9-5 heading into the final quarter.
The Lopes once again started quickly in the fourth. Cody Clark, Weston Gotuzzo and Snowbarger all scored within the first three minutes while Cian Peterson put in another with 9:21 left. But if any emphasis on unreadiness according to Rapkin needed an example, the Bulldogs scored 11 seconds after Peterson’s goal to cap the scoring.
“Maybe we got caught up with the lights or the stadium, but we weren’t concentrating on step one,” Rapkin said. “We were thinking about step five before we get to step one. We just weren’t ready.”
GCU outshot UGA, 31-15. Snowbarger led all scorers with four goals on the night, while Petersen and Wengreniuk tallied two goals each. Georgia’s Connor Johnson netted a hat trick with three scores.
The two-game homestand continues Monday night at 6:30 pm when GCU welcomes No. 15 Boston College into GCU Stadium. Rapkin was adamant after the game about his team needing to quickly turn things around for an opponent that jumped nine spots in the previous ranking, and one who upset No. 6 Arizona State, 12-11, Friday.
“We have to get ourselves straight real quick here,” Rapkin said. “[Boston College] is legit. They are coming to Arizona to take care of business. We better get ourselves ready for Monday night.”