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GCU Men’s Rugby Shatters Losing Streak With Arizona

rugby beats u of a
November 3, 2021

Dominating performance by Lopes in 50 – 3 victory

By: Zach Melcher/GCU Club Sports Writing Staff

Rivals fall.

“We have big goals for this season,” said Lopes’ Head Coach Sean O’Leary. “If we can’t beat our local rivals, then we can’t compete at the national level.”  

The Grand Canyon University Men’s Rugby team turned the tables on the University of Arizona, 50-3, in their final fall matchup at the GCU Practice Soccer Field on campus. This was the Lopes’ first win over their in-state rivals in program history.

The historic night began with a heartfelt pregame ceremony honoring the memory of the late Lopes’ player Andrew Summerfield, who was tragically slain in January in California. His family was on hand to receive a commemorative portrait from O’Leary, GCU Club Sports Director Dan Nichols, and members of the team.

“Between the dedication and the game, emotions were definitely high,” said Lopes’ redshirt senior Damon McCaskill. “For the past four years we have been playing this team, we have entered the game thinking we were going to win.”

The Lopes controlled the pitch throughout the first half. The Lopes’ Chris Buonarati, Jared Tavares and Josh Peavy all found the try zone in the match’s first 23 minutes, scoring 19 unanswered points before the Wildcats could light up their own side of the scoreboard with a three-point penalty kick. With time winding down in the half, the Lopes’ aggressiveness didn’t yield as GCU forward Rayden Tuaua found the try zone in the 38th minute. GCU freshman flyhalf Ethan Van Tonder’s third successful two-point conversion helped extend the Lopes’ lead to 26 – 3 as the first half came to a close.

“We wanted to keep our energy and confidence high to avoid complacency,” said Lopes’ senior scrum-half Tucker Trickey. “We knew if we could maintain that momentum, it would help propel us to the end of the game.”

The Lopes picked up where they left off as Lopes’ sophomore fullback Asher Davidson entered the try zone in the first 4 minutes of the second half. Tavares scored two more tries to complete his hat trick for the match before Lopes’ junior Reece Prefontaine collected the team’s final try at the horn.

“I was extremely pleased and grateful for how we bought in during the weeks leading up to this, and we all had each other’s backs the entire game,” said Tucker. “When the final whistle blew, I was overcome with emotion because we had finally done it.”

Besides the pregame ceremony and the win, the Lopes also celebrated the program’s future at halftime with a signing ceremony to welcome two high school early commits, Ian DiMaria and Victor Alvarado.

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