By: Natalie Van Dyke/GCU Staff
Grand Canyon University Women’s Club Soccer finished out its 2019 fall season this weekend with two losses to the University of Arizona that eliminated the Lopes from playoff contention.
Friday night, GCU trailed just 1-0 at halftime, but couldn’t hold the Wildcats down in the second half of a 5-0 defeat. The following morning, U of A carried on that momentum to tack on another win – this time over GCU White, 2-0. The Lopes only had 10 players on the field, and had a scoreless game at the half, but were unable to maintain their shutout defense in the second half. Despite playoff hopes being lost, the Lopes were able to cap their season off with a 1-0 victory over Arizona State University Sunday morning.
“We would have loved at shot at regionals, but I’m incredibly proud of this team,” said GCU Head Coach Hannah Bolton. “They carried on that grit we’ve talked about all season, and they fought hard. Sometimes, that’s just not enough, and we are excited to see what we can do moving forward.”
GCU Purple finished its season with a 6-4-3 record, and GCU White finished with a 2-8-2 record – both of which are improvements to the program’s 1-8-2 record last season. The Lopes had 10 different players contribute to the 32 goals on the season as a whole. Lexi Baca, GCU Club Sports’ September Student Athlete of the Month, led the way with nine goals, followed by six from Kaitlyn Halverson, and Hannah Rowland tallying four. Bolton predicted the struggles the program would face with only three returners from last year after the season-opening weekend in September, but in the end, Bolton’s players impressed her.
Peyton McCrea, who contributed three goals this season, stood out to Bolton for more than just her ability to score.
“She always did her job,” said Bolton. “She has an incredible work ethic, trusted her teammates and earned their respect. She’s a special leader, and that’s not something you see every day.”
Defensively, GCU Purple held their opponents to one goal or less in six of their 13 games, with three of those games being shutouts. Bolton credits her keepers and center defender Maribel Molina for their strength in the back.
“Alyssa Kuhn and Ana Barajas were unbelievable this season,” said Bolton. “They both had incredible saves this season and communicated well. Molina was ready every time she stepped on the field and held down the fort.”
Bolton also highlighted the leadership of Gabrielle McGaughey.
“She is extremely versatile,” said Bolton. “I could put her anywhere, no hesitation, no question. She was always willing to exhaust herself for the sake of the team.”
“The girls are already asking what’s next,” added Bolton. “In previous years, the girls are ready for a break, but this a group that wants to be together. They want to put in the work in the offseason, and that allows us to set regionals as a big and attainable goal for next year.”