By: Ruby Arani/ GCU Staff
“This first game will be the foundation of our D1 program” – Lopes’ Head Coach Tracy Gallihugh.
The Lopes are back-to-back Western Women’s Lacrosse League (WWLL) Division II champions, and finished third in the Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association (WCLA) in 2017. The Lopes are a strong and competitive side with new and returning players such as three WCLA Division II 1st Team All-American players: senior attacker Kelsey Wood, junior midfielder Brianna Healy and WCLA Division II Midfielder of the Year, junior Brianna Healy.
“GCU has more to prove as the underdog this year, and I hope that will drive the team,” said Gallihugh.
There is also a lot of anticipation on the shoulders of each player, but Gallihugh believes these factors will not phase her team.
“Our team has the skill, endurance and competitiveness they need to win,” she said.
A key factor for the Lopes is to stay both physically and mentally tough. “GCU needs to stay mentally tough and play confidently,” said Gallihugh. “If they can keep their confidence, and trust in themselves and in their teammates, then they will come out of this game successful.”
Home field advantage will play a big role in performance as well. “Having this first game as a home game is bringing great positivity and encouragement to the team,” noted Gallihugh. “Being able to share this staple of a moment with the GCU community is a great start to the season.”
The Gauchos of UCSB participates in the Central Conference of the WWLL. UCSB competes against the likes of top tier California teams such as University of California, Los Angeles and Saint Mary’s College. According to the WWLL, the Gauchos have participated in Division I since 2012.
“UCSB has a well-established program and foundation,” said Lopes’ Head Coach Tracy Gallihugh. “They will be a good test to our abilities as a team.”
In the 2017 spring season, the Gauchos ended their season 0-10. UCSB’s first team consists of all returners as well as WWLL 2nd Team Attacker, Sarah Griffin.
Though UCSB did not have a strong performance in the 2017 season, Gallihugh and the Lopes should not underestimate this side.
“The only advantage UCSB has an advantage on (GCU), is that they are used to playing in this league, with these teams, and at the higher competitive level,” said Gallihugh. “Just like any other team, they are beatable, and it is our job to test their abilities as a team. This should be a great game to have as our first D1 game.”
The Lopes will open up their season under the lights of Prescott Field at 7 pm on Friday January 26.