The GCU men’s soccer players will have more to look forward to next week than just a chance to sleep in their own beds again.
Grand Canyon University will be coming off a 10-day road trip that took them 3,000 miles from home – but the trip to Hawai’i will likely result in their moving up in the region standings, which will be released Tuesday.
If they beat Hawai’i Hilo University tonight, they will come back to Phoenix with three wins and one tie. But it will be the quality of those wins that will give them a boost in the NCAA Division II West Region rankings, where they currently reside in the No. 5 spot.
The Antelopes, who have won four Pacific West championships in five years, had climbed from No. 9 to their current standing following a 3-1 win over Chaminade University, the first contest on the four-game Hawai’i tour.
But their trip to the Islands gave them a chance to take on some top competition in the conference. They responded by playing undefeated BYU-Hawai’i to a 1-1 double overtime draw and then beating the first-place team in the conference, Hawai’i Pacific, 2-0 in Thursday’s game.
The ‘Lopes’ offense has been in full attack mode lately, as they had a huge 37-13 advantage in shots in the BYU-Hawai’i game and outshot Pacific 11-7.
GCU’s junior forward, Saeed Robinson, accounted for both goals in Thursday’s game, scoring in the 22nd minute, and then again 12 minutes later, off of assists from Mitchell Garcia and Alex Connally. Garcia is a senior midfielder from Agua Fria High School in Avondale who played at Phoenix College before transferring in to GCU.
Those two goals bring Robinson’s total to eight on the season, tying him for the conference lead and the seventh-most goals nationally.
Another local athlete was in goal for that game. Adam Garcia, a senior from Westview High School in Avondale who also came up through Phoenix College, was in net for the full 90 minutes. He recorded two saves and posted his fifth win of the season.
Credit also needs to go to the GCU defense against Pacific, which is ranked No. 2 in the West Region and No. 23 nationally, as the ‘D’ unit limited the Sea Warriors to just two shots on goal. A significant accomplishment, since Pacific leads the PacWest in shots per game and goals.
GCU (5-2-1) finished the 2010 campaign ranked No. 11 in the nation and was picked in the 2011 pre-season polls to win its fifth PacWest title. Their 15-3-2 record last year was just two wins shy of the school all-time mark.
The ‘Lopes will be back on their home field in west Phoenix for Thursday’s match-up with Western Washington (3-4-0), a non-conference opponent that plays in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.
(Photo: GCU Athletics/Jak Keyser)