By: Ruby Arani/ GCU Staff
It’s been over a month since the Grand Canyon University Women’s Lacrosse team has played, but the Lopes have been taking the time to prepare for their first Division 1 conference games this upcoming weekend. The Lopes will face off against in-state rivals Arizona State University Saturday morning and the University of Arizona Sunday afternoon at GCU’s Prescott Field.
The last time the Lopes took the field was at the Santa Barbara Shoot Out, where the Lopes came up short, going 1-2 at the tournament. The Lopes have used this time off to perfect their skills and prepare to take on their new DI conference. Lopes’ Head Coach Tracy Gallihugh has been putting the girls to work.
“The team has been preparing for this upcoming by turning our weakness into strength through countless drills and conditioning,” said Gallihugh.
Not only has Gallihugh been perfecting the Lopes’ skills on the field but also off.
“We have also been promoting teamwork by doing team building exercises,” said Gallihugh. “These exercises build team trust and communication, which is essential to game play. It will take every member of our team to win these upcoming games, so we have been emphasizing to utilize each other to become one bigger and better unit.”
Kicking off Conference Play with an In-State Rivalry
The Lopes’ first game in conference is against the Sun Devils of ASU. The Sun Devils stand in second place in the Western Women’s Lacrosse League (WWLL)’s South Conference with a record of 1-1, losing to San Diego State University earlier this month.
ASU is a major in-state rival for GCU in all aspects, but that doesn’t phase Gallihugh.
“I expect the ASU game to be one of our biggest competitions in our conference,” Gallihugh said. “I expect the team to put this mental rivalry aside, and just play their best game-just like they would any other team. If anything, I hope they are more excited and more motivated for this game.”
The last time the Lopes faced off with ASU was in the fall at the annual women’s lacrosse round robin, where the Lopes lost, 12-5. Gallihugh doesn’t see that as a negative.
“We have come a long way since we played them in the fall, and (we) are a totally different team. I think ASU will underestimate us, and that will be our time to shine,” said Gallihugh.
The Lopes will take on the Sun Devils Saturday, March 24 at 9:30 am at Prescott Field.
Then on Sunday, the Lopes will take on the Wildcats of U of A. The Wildcats are fourth in the WWLL South with an 0-1 record, also losing to SDSU earlier this month. The Lopes have yet to match up with the Wildcats this year, but Gallihugh has a strategy in place.
“I think U of A will be an equally tough team,” said Gallihugh. “U of A has a more creative style of play that can be tricky to defend. We have been promoting creativity ourselves in practices which should make us play more confident against them.”
The Lopes will take on the Wildcats on Sunday, March 25 at 1 pm at Prescott Field.
WWLL South Conference
The Lopes compete in the WWLL South Conference which is made up of five teams: GCU, ASU, U of A, San Diego University and San Diego State University. This is the Lopes’ first year to compete in a D1 conference, but so far the Lopes have done fairly well against D1 competition, going 3-3 overall this season.
“These four conference games are going be tough,” said Gallihugh. “Our conference has some really great teams. We have been practicing a lot, and I expect the team to put what we have practiced into action. We have the skill to beat any team, and I expect GCU to show their skill, confidence and hard work during these next four games.”
Though the Lopes face tough competition, their goal remains to reach playoffs. The top two teams of the conference will advance to the WWLL Playoffs in April. As of now, GCU stands third in the conference right behind ASU (1-1) and SDSU (2-0).
“SDSU seems to be our biggest competitor in our conference,” said Gallihugh. “Currently, SDSU is undefeated by beating both ASU and U of A.”
Gallihugh knows that if the girls practice what she has been preaching, reaching conference playoffs will be a breeze.
“I would like to see them play with the highest of confidence in themselves and in their teammates,” added Gallihugh. “If they can do these things, then nothing will be impossible for them.”
Interested in Women’s Lacrosse? Contact Head Coach Tracy Gallihugh today!