Once is luck, but twice becomes a habit.
Despite the lack of notoriety surrounding the program, the Grand Canyon University Women’s Rugby team burst onto the scene with impressive wins over two No. 1-ranked schools at the time, and reached the final four. The Lopes capped off the season ranked 4th in the nation, and with four players named to the All-Tournament team, including team captain Jasmine Fifer, who was named standout player of the tournament.
The Lopes’ first new challenge arrived this summer when they were promoted from Division II to Division I. Lopes head coach Daniela Mogro spoke on how the team plans to build off what was already a terrific performance last season.
“We set high expectations for ourselves while keeping the environment fun for all the ladies who wanted to learn and grow,” said Mogro. “We’ve had a full summer to focus on the fundamentals. It’s not about winning the season now, but to continue building, that’s what the great programs do.”
Because of the strong season and overall buzz, the team now switches from being the underdog to the favorite for many of their matches.
Does that create pressure for this year’s players? “I don’t necessarily feel there’s a target on our back,” said Lopes’ Co-Captain Kat Lazante. “Of course we want to strive to be one of the best again, but as long as we stick to our fundamentals and stay together as a team, we’ll be successful.”
Both Mogro and Lazante say that one specific are they hope to improve on is communication on the field, but also noted that will come with continual practices and bonding. With new faces joining the program, the Lopes will integrate them into the team with a match against Northern Arizona University this Saturday in Flagstaff.