By: Chase Gardiner/GCU Staff
Any loss is difficult to stomach. This one stung more than usual.
Despite being in line to pull off a big upset at halftime, the Grand Canyon University Men’s Rugby team was unable to score in the 2nd half in suffering a difficult loss to 11th-ranked Central Washington University, 22-8, Saturday afternoon in Ellensburg, Washington. The loss snapped the Lopes’ 2-match winning streak, and gave them an overall regular season mark of 5-3.
“Basically, this loss kept us ranked 7th in the west, where a win would’ve bumped our ranking up,” said Lopes Head Coach Cam Wyper. “It’s really unfortunate because now, in the postseason, we will be going up against St. Mary’s, rather than Arizona, which would’ve been a more favorable matchup for us.”
To make matters worse, the Lopes know that the ability to win a match this important was well within their grasp. After one half of play, the Lopes actually held a tight 8-7 lead. However, the second half had a completely different outcome, as Central Washington found a way to dish up a 15-0 shutout.
“This was an exceptionally tough loss because we started out pretty good,” said Wyper. “We defended really well and our scrum was quite dominant, but we just weren’t able to duplicate those results in the second half.”
Furthermore, Wyper acknowledged that the lopsided second half results were largely due to the Lopes inability to execute, rather than the success of Central Washington’s half time adjustments.
“Central started the half very well, but we came out somewhat flat with a couple of issues,” explained Wyper. “It honestly came down to our failure to take advantage of our opportunities. Central gave us a good number of opportunities, and we just failed to capitalize on all of them, which ultimately caused the loss.”
Despite the inability to grab a much needed win, the Lopes are fortunate enough to have an extra game before their playoff match against St. Mary’s. Due to heavy rainfall earlier in the year, the Lopes had to reschedule a match against Arizona State University, which will take place on Thursday April 4. Because of the rescheduling, this game will have no impact on either team’s postseason ranking, and will instead allow both squads a chance to implement some changes, without the risk of hurting their own standing.
“In our game against ASU on Thursday, we are just planning on making some small adjustments and addressing the problems that we saw over the weekend,” said Wyper. “With this essentially being a free game, we are hoping that we can get some of the confidence back that we lost against Central Washington, and find ways to execute better going forward.”\
Following the match against ASU, the Lopes will travel to Moraga, California, to compete in the D1A Rugby Playoffs (Nationals Round of 16). This match will take place against St. Mary’s College of California, on April 13. Make sure to stay tuned on the Men’s Rugby home page, to follow how the Lopes perform in the playoffs.
Interested in joining the Men’s Rugby team? Contact the coach to learn more!