By: K.J. Wylie/GCU Staff
Coming off their first regular season loss of the year, the Grand Canyon University Women’s Rugby team recovered from a few self-inflicted mistakes to earn a nailbiting 39-38 victory over California State University-Northridge Sunday at the GCU Practice Soccer Field. The win came in the Lopes’ final home match, and moved them to 4-1 overall with one match left in the regular season.
After playing from behind during much of their 32-29 loss to UC-Santa Barbara last week, GCU struck early and found themselves on the scoreboard first Sunday. Lopes’ forward Temprist Smith ripped off a try at the five minute mark to give her team a 7-0 lead after the successful conversion. Showing true resilience, GCU responded to a Northridge game-tying try twice in the first half with a score of their own within three minutes. GCU maintained a 10-point lead at halftime, 22-12.
CSUN used some uncharacteristic GCU errors to roar back into the match, scoring two tries in 11 minutes to take their first lead of the day, 26-22.
“We made some mistakes, and every game isn’t perfect,” said Lopes’ Co-Head Coach (and starting forward) Jasmine Fifer. “They were really aggressive, did a good job of getting the ball out fast, and we had to adapt to it.”
The Lopes retook the lead at the 62-minute mark, then tried to put the game out of reach on a Shayna Tamanaha try four minutes later to extend the lead to 34-26.
However, the Matadors responded with two tries of their own in the 71st and 77th mark of the match to take a 38-34 edge. The Lopes drove down the field in their final possession, and Lopes’ back Amber Falemalu crossed the try line in the final minute of the match to give the Lopes the comeback victory.
Despite their close loss the week prior Lopes Back Jasmine Fifer assured that nothing has changed to the way the program approaches each match.
“Our Mentality was still the same,” said Lopes Forward Jasmine Fifer. “We wanted to keep the same game plan we had all year with our structures and playing smart. They fought really hard and I’m glad we were able to come out on top.”
The Lopes will have two weeks off before the team travels to San Diego on March 9th. The team will face off with University of California-San Diego in their regular season finale.
“We want to prove we are still the same team to beat as we have been the past two years,” said Fifer. “The time off will be good for recovering and studying, and then we’re excited to finish strong.”