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GCU Water Polo downed by Ottawa in final match

Water polo player throwing ball
March 26, 2021

Lopes use new strategies to prepare for future seasons

By: Julie Laugel/GCU Club Sports Writing Staff

Building for a better future.

In their second appearance as a program, the Grand Canyon University Water Polo team faced Ottawa University, but fell to the Spirit for the second time this season, 23-8. As a budding program, the Lopes mixed up their lineup and offensive tactics to prepare for the men and women to compete separately in the future.

“We decided we were going to focus on guys playing in quarters 1 and 3, and girls playing in quarters 2 and 4, so they’d have a chance to get used to playing together as a cohesive group rather than everything being co-ed,” said Lopes’ Head Coach Sheri Hopper. “Even though the score reflected us making those decisions, it will help us build the men’s league team and the women’s team separately, so it was a really important thing to do with the season ending.”

The Spirit started the game off strong with a 5-0 run in the first five minutes of the match and never looked back.

With GCU’s Beau Merritt scoring six out of the Lopes’ eight goals in their first match against Ottawa, the team focused on moving the ball around and mixing up their shots.

“It’s easy to depend on one person in the water who’s not afraid to make those shots,” said Hopper. “One of the major things we decided to work on in the last two weeks was more shots on goal and everyone being a threat on the goal, and I think it worked.”

The Lopes successfully executed this new strategy, doubling the number of scorers from their first match from three to six, with Merritt and Michael Swift leading the way with two goals each.

“They were positive the entire game while working on new skills and trying new things,” said Hopper. “They did really well with the team comradery and the support that they give each other while also celebrating each other’s personal wins throughout the entire game.”

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