For a small-college lacrosse program still trying to gain recognition and develop an identity, the weekend victory over Northern Arizona was a welcome step in the process.
And a great way for its seniors to beginning closing out their college careers.
Grand Canyon University climbed all over visiting NAU, 24-8, thanks to a lot of help from local high school graduates that chose the Phoenix school to continue playing the game that continues to grow in popularity around the state.
Konner Klein, a freshman attack from Desert Mountain HS in Scottsdale, punched in seven goals to lead the offensive effort against the Lumberjacks; Jack Hippensteel, a sophomore attack from Chandler HS, added four more; and Billy Lloyd, a junior attack from Sabino HS in Tucson, scored three.
The win was good for the morale, but didn’t contribute to the Antelopes’ record against NCAA competition, which is 2-7, since NAU belongs to the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association (Div. II) and the ‘Lopes play in Division II of the NCAA. The NCAA doesn’t recognize scores against ‘club’ teams like the Jacks. The ‘Lopes have played three club teams this season and beaten two of them.
But it was an important win for the two seniors on the squad, Scott Franks and Ryan Jackson, since it was Senior Day. Jackson is a local product, from Sahuaro HS in Tucson, and is one of only two players that have been with the program from its inception. He actually was a baseball player when he arrived on the GCU campus, but converted to lacrosse when the program started up under the direction of Adam Marshall, who came from coaching the Desert Mountain HS team to get the ‘Lopes program underway in 2008.
Franks, the team captain, had even more to be happy about on the day of his last home game. He had six assists in the NAU game and scored two goals.
Jackson and Franks have two games left in their college career, as the ‘Lopes travel to San Rafael, Calif., where they take on Dominican University of California April 16 and then wrap the season up the next day against Westminster College.
(Photo: GCU Athletics/Tim Koors)