Lopes post season-high in points in 83-10 drubbing of San Diego State Saturday
By: Jim Howell/GCU Club Sports Information Director
Still stinging from a lopsided loss a week ago on the same field to the No. 3 team in the nation, the 20th-ranked Grand Canyon University Men’s Rugby team “paid it forward” with a one-sided 83-10 victory Saturday afternoon over San Diego State University in the Lopes’ home finale at the GCU Practice Soccer Field on the GCU campus. The win pulled the Lopes (4-2 overall, 4-1 California Conference) back into a tie for second place in the California Conference with UC-Davis, who will be the Lopes’ next opponent in a week.
The Lopes ended the suspense about Saturday’s outcome rather early, since they took the lead in the match’s first minute, and were rarely stopped on their way to the try zone in a 40-point first half. Julian Arteaga got the Lopes on the scoreboard just 50 seconds after the initial whistle, and fellow teammates Brenden Curle and Drew Rubado followed Arteaga’s lead within the match’s first ten minutes to give GCU a comfortable 19-0 lead. The balance of the Lopes’ offense kept SDSU’s defense guessing as 9 different Lopes’ players hit the try zone to score a total of 13 Lopes’ tries.
“I think the boys were a bit frustrated after last week’s loss to (No. 3) St. Mary’s, and whoever we played this week was going to see us take our frustrations against them,” said Lopes’ Head Coach Cam Wyper. “SDSU is a quality program, so for us to come out and put up a number like that is pretty satisfying.”
The attack was so balanced that the Lopes’ leading try scorer on the season, senior forward Ronnie Sallee, didn’t score until the 58th minute. By that time, the score was 62-7.
Curle, Lincoln Sii, Suwaiter Poch and Cameron Johnston led the Lopes with a pair of tries each. GCU sophomore Cameron Dodson not only added a try himself, but was 6-for-8 in conversion kicks.
“I couldn’t be happier that other guys are getting tries, and that we’re not revolving around one player,” said Wyper. “These kinds of performances are usually the result of a lot of ‘off-the-ball’ work, and I thought most of our guys played really well in that aspect.”
With the only matches left on the regular season schedule being away from home against UCD and nationally ranked Central Washington, Wyper saw an urgency in his team to finish out the home side of the schedule with a win. He’d also like to see his team forget about the urgency of another department.
“We need to get away from thinking about keeping our ranking,” Wyper said. “It hurt us last week. We were so focused on keeping the game close that we lost track of what we’re trying to achieve, and sticking to our patent system structures. Today, we did that quite well.”
The Lopes begin their final road swing of the season by heading to northern California next week to face the Aggies (4-3 overall, 4-1 California Conference), who will not only put 2nd place in the standings on the line but also a four-match winning streak. The Lopes and Aggies will square off next Saturday, March 16 at 1 pm in Davis, California.