By: K.J. Wylie/GCU Staff
Third time’s the charm.
It was an off-season of change for the Grand Canyon University Women’s Rugby team as they overhauled their entire coaching staff. For new Lopes’ Student Head Coach Jasmine Fifer, though, the changes haven’t adjusted the goal from when they started out the journey two years ago as a brand-new team: make it to nationals and win a ring. That journey begins for the Lopes this weekend as they travel to Tucson to take on the University of Arizona in the season opener.
Last season, GCU got the better of UofA, defeating them soundly in the 2018 season opener, 81-12. That started the Lopes on an undefeated regular season and an overall 16-1 record, with their only loss coming in West Coast Pool Play of the USA Rugby Women’s D1/D1 Elite National Tournament. Although it may be difficult to improve on such a successful year, the Lopes have certain ideas in mind to become even more dominating.
“Our main goal is for everyone to work smarter, not harder,” said Fifer. “We were taught new attack plays, and our defense has gotten much better. We’re still a consistent team, and through hard work, we’ll focus on one game at a time and hopefully win a ring.”
Last year, Grand Canyon traveled to the Scrum by the Sea preseason tournament in San Diego, California, to get their feet wet before the games counted toward their conference record. This year, the Lopes were only able to compete in one pre-season game.
Any worries about potential field rust, Coach?
“Any blows thrown our way, we handle them confidently,” replied Fifer. “We understand that we have a target painted on our backs, and other teams are going to be ready to come at us, but we’re all level-headed and ready for it.”
The battle between the two Arizona schools is this Saturday, January 17 at 4pm on the UofA campus in Tucson. It will be the Lopes’ first game in the newly renamed “Pacific Rugby Conference” in Division I.
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