By: Ruby Arani / GCU Staff
Win it for Paige.
That motto wasn’t part of the pregame speech at all for Grand Canyon University Women’s Lacrosse team at Colter Fields on the GCU Campus. After Lopes’ freshman midfielder Paige Loeffler suffered a severe injury and was taken off the field early in the second half Sunday, though, it became paramount as the Lopes rallied together for their teammate to defeat the Gaels of St. Mary’s College of California, 11-9.
After dropping an 18-5 decision to the Gaels last season at the Santa Barbara Shootout, the Lopes were determined to get off to a strong start this time around. The Lopes scored first Sunday morning, then endured an aggressive and dramatic back-and-forth first half that ended in a 7-7 tie.
The Lopes surged with new energy early in the second half to take a 9-7 lead over the Gaels. With 20 minutes left in the game, Loeffler went down with the serious wrist injury, the Lopes’ frustration came out, and the Gaels scored quickly to close the deficit to one.
“The girls were angry, and they wanted to win badly for Paige, but they were doing it in a sloppy way,” said Lopes’ Head Coach Tracy Gallihugh, who immediately called a timeout after the SMC score. “We had a chance to calm down, and think about how Paige really wanted us to play.”
The renewed focus paid off, allowing SMC just one more goal the rest of the way as the Lopes held on for their second win of the year.
“With all injuries that have been happening, we were able to come together more like a family,” said Gallihugh. “That trust is starting to show on the field, and it pushes them to try to mix things up and play off each other more.”
The Lopes’ trust has increased with the increased number of games – including the character-building Santa Barbara Shootout last weekend that yielded the team’s first victory.
“The Santa Barbara Shootout gave us more game experience, and we were able to play tougher competition,” noted Gallihugh. “We are a young team this year. Game experience allows us to get better and take more risks, which helped us in this matchup against St. Mary’s.”
The Lopes have a solid month until they dive into conference play when they will first take on the University of San Diego. A month off might seem like too much, but Gallihugh wants her team to take full advantage.
“After this game, I told the girls that they mentally must stay in it,” said Gallihugh. “We have the opportunity to work on ourselves. We are going to be hitting a lot of things – making sure to polish up our defense and offense, but most importantly, work on playing with confidence.”
The Lopes return to Prescott Field on Saturday, March 23rd to take on University of San Diego at 5 pm. Admission is FREE.