By: Julie Laugel/GCU Staff
“Our team end-of-the-season goal is to make playoffs – especially because we’re hosting them.”
Entering 2020 as its third season on the Division I level and fourth season under Lopes’ Head Coach Tracy Gallihugh, the GCU Women’s Lacrosse team looks to improve on a 1-4 Western Women’s Lacrosse League (WWLL) record and 3-9 overall record from the 2019 season. Having their bid accepted to host the WWLL Playoffs for the first time ever this April is even more motivation.
Now, after a few years of experience in Division I, the Lopes are confident that their work in the off-season has put them in a position to be successful.
“We’ve broken down and done a lot of muscle memory stuff because I really want them to be able to get into the game and not have to think about what they have to do and just do it,” said Gallihugh, “We’ve also done a lot of team building and trust exercises, so having that trust is going to help on the field, too.”
Players to Watch
Graduating five players from last year, everyone on the 2020 roster is entering either their first or second year playing college lacrosse. With this lack of seniority, Gallihugh looks to both returners and new players to lead the team to victory.
For the returners, Gallihugh expects big things from team captains Paige Loeffler and Becca Luedemann.
After a season ending wrist injury in the 2019 season, “Paige came back this year and is working hard and ready to play. She’s just kicking butt on the field and is going to do great things,” said Gallihugh. “Becca is the anchor. She communicates well, which helps the defenders out and keeps us as one unit. She’ll be a good force on defense.”
For the first-year players, Gallihugh anticipates contributions from midfielder Riley Nuss and attacker Rachel Ware.
“Riley has come out of nowhere,” said Gallihugh. “She continues to get better and better each day, and she pushes herself and her teammates. That work ethic and determination on the field is going to do wonders for us.”
“Rachel is going to be our secret weapon on fast breaks and down-low attacks. She’s really good at finding opportunities down low, and has really good handling skills under pressure.”
2020 Season Goals
GCU looks forward to some tough competition in the 2020 season.
“I’m really excited to play (Arizona State University) and (University of Arizona),” said Gallihugh, “They have completely counted us out just because they have been in Division I for so long, and have beaten us by pretty wide margins in the past. We’re going to start being competitive with them, and I think we can really beat them this year.”
The Lopes kick off their season with a home opener this Saturday, Jan. 25, against University of California, Santa Barbara at GCU’s Prescott Field at 10 am.