Team battles back from 3-goal deficit before falling to Colorado State, 4-2, Sunday
By: Jim Howell/GCU Club Sports Information Director
Yes, it was a loss, but nearly half a day after the Grand Canyon University Women’s Hockey team dropped a 4-2 decision to Colorado State University, their head coach was still all smiles about it.
“We had a lot of players really step up and rise to the challenge, and set the tone,” said Lopes Head Coach Natalie Rossi. “That’s something we really haven’t done in the past. That’s the most goals we’ve had in a season, and there’s a lot of reasons why.”
Neither Rossi nor the fans who woke up early for the Sunday morning matchup at AZ Ice Peoria were sure after the first period whether the Lopes would step up to that challenge or not. The Lopes’ offense came out firing, registering the first five shots on goal against the Rams, but couldn’t score. It took CSU just two shots after that to get on the board as Emily Kruger found an opening in the GCU defense for the first goal seven minutes into the game. The goal deflated the Lopes a bit as CSU scored just 90 seconds later, then added a crucial goal with just under three minutes left to skate into the locker room with a 3-0 cushion after one period.
Despite the deficit, Rossi saw distinct advantages for the Lopes as they came out for the second period. “I saw that that was a team we could definitely compete with,” said Rossi. We set the tone against them, and haven’t done that before. We also put the pressure on, which is something we’ve been trying to do.”
As a result, the Rams’ offensive chances dried up in the second period, and the Lopes finally capitalized on their own opportunities. GCU’s Hanna Joralmon slapped her first career college goal past CSU goalie Mackenzie Roberts midway through the period, then helped set up Shilo Cederberg with her first goal as a Lope with just under four minutes left to cut the deficit to 3-2 at the second intermission.
While the Lopes continued to outshoot the Rams all day (finishing with a 32-24 advantage over CSU in shots on goal), the Rams’ defense tightened, neutralizing the Lopes’ attack for the final 23 minutes of the game. CSU’s Amanda Seltzer put the game out of reach with a goal with just over five minutes left.
While the two-goal performance is a new single-game high for the Lopes, Rossi felt it was the back line that created GCU’s momentum. “We moved Tuesday Chavez to the backline, and our defense was more poised with the puck today,” remarked Rossi. “That made a world of difference. They picked up bodies in front of the net much better today.”
The team now has nearly three weeks off before facing Colorado State again. This time, though, the teams will square off in the WWCHL Showcase that will see GCU face four teams over three days in three different Colorado cities (Fort Collins, Denver and Boulder). The Lopes’ next home matchup will be Thursday night, Nov. 16, when they host Midland University from Nebraska. It will be a 6:20 pm faceoff at AZ Ice Peoria, and admission is FREE.