By: Ruby Arani / GCU Staff
The start of the 2019 Grand Canyon University Women’s Lacrosse season was welcomed this weekend by three opponents: California Polytechnic State University, the University of Southern California…
…and Mother Nature.
The Lopes’ opening weekend was a rain-marred trip through central California. Their original season opener of the road trip became a scrimmage between the Lopes and the Gauchos of UC-Santa Barbara when the game referees couldn’t get to the field due to the weather.
The rain subsided long enough for the Lopes to play their second scheduled game of the day against the Mustangs of Cal Poly. Playing for the first time ever against the defending Western Women’s Lacrosse League (WWLL) Central Conference champs (and No. 9 seed at the 2018 Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse Associate National Tournament), the Lopes battled to stay with the Mustangs, but ran out of steam to drop the game, 14-9.
“I am very proud of the way we played,” said Gallihugh. “Cal Poly is a very established and seasoned team. Regardless of the ending score, I thought it was a well-matched game. GCU was persistent, aggressive, and adaptive.”
The Lopes then traveled through even more rain Sunday morning to Los Angeles to face a team they dominated at Prescott Field a year ago: the Trojans of USC. The Lopes were hoping to repeat history, but USC came through in the clutch Sunday to secure a 11-10 win.
“We went into the USC game thinking it was going to be an easy win,” noted Gallihugh. “We played slow and lazy. USC wanted that game more, and they just out-hustled us.”
While not providing winning results, the weekend gave the Lopes much-needed game experience.
“It was the first college game for more than half of our team,” said Gallihugh. “We were all just figuring out how to play together under such stressful conditions. We have the knowledge and skill to be a very successful team. We now just need the confidence and consistency.””
Sophomore goalie Sulai-Pili Samante: “Samanate led our team through the weekend with many incredible saves,” said Gallihugh. “She stopped almost all the free position shots, which is extremely hard at this level of play. She had many unbelievable 1 on 1 saves. Her clears were smart, patient, and accurate.”
Defender Daniela Sanchez: “She held the defensive end together through communication, strategy, and leading by example,” said Gallihugh. “She was aggressive and fearless going out on ball. She stopped many 1 on 1 drives and fast-breaks. She was the core of our defense this weekend.”
Lopes Home Opener
This Saturday, February 9, the Lopes will kick off their home opener at Prescott Field on the GCU campus against defending WWLL South Conference champion San Diego State University at noon, and then – for the first time ever – the Rams of Colorado State University at 5 pm.
“Both teams are extremely skilled and established,” said Gallihugh. “However, we have skill, too. We have the talent, intelligence, passion, and team dynamic, it is just a matter of tying everything together. We play better against the tougher competition.”
Interested in GCU Women’s Lacrosse? Contact Head Coach Tracy Gallihugh today!