By: Ruby Arani / GCU Staff
What a year for the Grand Canyon University Women’s Lacrosse program.
The 2018 spring season marked a historic milestone for the GCU women’s lacrosse program. In November, the Lopes were unanimously voted by Western Women’s Lacrosse League (WWLL) to move up to Division I. The Lopes kicked off their DI season in January with an overtime win over the University of California Santa Barbara. The Lopes continued their win streak with a 20-4 rout over the University of Southern California the following weekend.
Though the Lopes found victories early on, conference play reflected a different story.
The Lopes took on Arizona State University and the University of Arizona in late March, and were unable to find any positive results, losing both games that weekend.
The Lopes finished fourth in South Conference of the WWLL and went 4-6 overall this season.
“This season has showed us what the standards of Division I are,” said Lopes’ Head Coach Tracy Gallihugh. “We saw how the other teams played and their skill levels. Our standards next year will exceed what we saw from the other teams this year. This year was definitely a transition and learning year.”
“More than anything, they never gave up.”
Looking Toward Next Season
Though the Lopes ended their season earlier than expected, Gallihugh saw her team respond to the message involved with the early exit.
“The highlight of the season was seeing the team grow as a family and to be humbled into having positive attitudes,” said Gallihugh. “Having positive attitudes and teamwork as the core of our program for next year will make our potential limitless.”
“Even for next year, I have the highest hopes and expectation that we can be the top of our conference and make it to playoffs. As we learned, it will take a lot of work and discipline. I will have to change my coaching style to fit these new standards, but we saw what we have to do and we will be putting it into action for next season.”
To ultimately reach the program’s potential, Gallihugh sees the need for change for everyone. Including herself.
“As we learned, it will take a lot of work and discipline,” Gallihugh said. “I will have to change my coaching style to fit these standards, but we saw what we have to do, and we will be putting it into action for next season.”
Gallihugh is losing three important seniors – Kelsey Wood, Maddie Magoon and Courtney Benardino – but she sees her underclassmen as the Lopes’ newest strengths. As of now, the Lopes have added seven new recruits for the 2018-2019 roster, and each one is bringing something new and unique to the table.
“We have a lot of talent coming in for next year who are very excited to join the team and make their mark on it,” said Gallihugh. “(Plus), our freshman this year are growing so much faster. I believe that they rise to the challenge of filling the (seniors’) shoes,” said Gallihugh.
The younger players of the roster will have to adapt quickly, since Gallihugh is hoping ot add even tougher competition to next season’s schedule.
“You have to play the best to be the best,” said Gallihugh. “For one, I am hoping to put Cal Poly in our schedule for next year, and hopefully some Colorado teams as well.”