By: K.J. Wylie/GCU Staff
Concerns about the Grand Canyon University Women’s Rugby team suffering from rust because their 2018 opener was delayed by a forfeit last week quickly washed away Saturday afternoon at Prescott Field as the Lopes took the field for the first time since November, and impressively routed in-state rival University of Arizona in an 81-12 victory.
The last time the Lopes were able to take the field, they swept the Scrum by the Sea Tournament in San Diego, California last November. Since then, a November forfeit win by the University of New Mexico, and then an Arizona State University forfeit in what was supposed to be their first game of the calendar year last week kept the Lopes off the field.
None of that mattered Saturday, since GCU’s impressive scoring barrage was the highest scoring performance in the program’s short but successful history. Kaley Lightfoot and Arisbel “Ace” Gonzales, along with eight other Lopes, all found the goal line Saturday afternoon. The Lopes’ “buying all in” mentality is working so far-even after making the switch from Division II to Division I this season.
Lopes’ Head Coach Daniela Mogro struggled with crediting any one player for the team’s performance.
“There’s some games where one player takes over, and you can see she leads the team to a win, but this was a complete team effort,” said Mogro. “Literally everyone was involved, and it was a fully balanced game between the forwards and backs.”
Scoring, however, isn’t the only way to contribute to such a big win. The selfless play of Lopes’ senior Dae Tuaua led her to assist on a plethora of scoring drives throughout the game.
“I want to be a leader for the team, but lead by example,” said Tuaua. “Working together cohesively and in unison is why we were able to find success. We’ll keep this mindset moving forward and remain resilient for every game.”
With such an impressive win, it’s only natural that a team’s confidence grows larger. And while Lopes’ junior Natasha Opoku found reasons to be excited for where the team is currently, she remained humbly grounded after the victory.
“I think we played our hearts out, but we didn’t play as coordinated as we wanted,” said Opoku. “Our communication on the field is what separates us from other teams, but we can’t get cocky, especially since we’re a Christian school. Any opponent can play better than their last game and beat you.”
After opening 2018 with a home game, GCU will switch things up this weekend with a road trip to Northridge, California. The team is set to face off against California State University, Northridge February 10 at noon. The Lopes’ next home game will be the Feb. 18 where they’ll host University of California Los Angeles. Admission to the game is FREE.
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