By: K.J. Wylie/GCU Staff
In a year that consisted of arguably the toughest schedule in the country, the Grand Canyon University Men’s Rugby program capped off their regular season on a high note, grinding out a 31-26 victory over California Polytechnic State University in the last home match of the year.
Lopes’ Back Darien Pickett led the team with two tries.
Grand Canyon had been on a scoring frenzy the past four weeks, averaging 54.75 points per game. However, it was a different atmosphere in the regular season finale, since both teams were stingy on the defensive side of the ball, and the match was scoreless for the first 26 minutes.
After getting a feel for each other, both teams began putting points on the board in bunches. Each time Grand Canyon scored in an attempt to widen the lead, Cal Poly answered and remained within striking distance. This was the first close match they had been a part of since upsetting the University of Utah back in February.
“As a coach, I hate these games,” said Lopes’ Head Coach Cam Wyper. “It could have went either way in the end with one or two big plays. I’m proud of the boys being able to pull this one out.”
GCU entered the night ranked No. 12 in the country, and if the playoffs had started Monday would be the 14th seed facing 3rd-seeded California. Monday’s victory certainly improves GCU’s chances to either gain higher seeding or lock in the position they are in right now, and compete in nationals.
“I’m extremely proud of what we have been able to do this season,” said Wyper. “But if I’m being honest, playoffs aren’t even in our thoughts right now. This was one hell of a team that required our full attention, when the time comes, we’ll think about what’s next.”
The playoff bracket will be announced by D1A Rugby in the coming weeks, and matches will begin a month from now. Grand Canyon finishes the regular season with an overall record of 7-2.