The city of Scottsdale has been good for the Grand Canyon University lacrosse program. Recruiting efforts in that city have helped propel the GCU lacrosse team to a No. 1 national ranking as they move through the national tournament.
And it’s not just some of the key players who hail from Scottsdale. That’s also where the team’s new coach got his start.
The Antelopes have run up a 17-1 record and a No. 1 spot in the LaxPower computer rankings. They play today in the MCLA Division II quarterfinals, the equivalent of the NCAA tournament for most Division I sports.
GCU is a small, private college in west Phoenix that competes in Division II and just became a member of the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association this season. The MCLA is a national organization of non-NCAA college lacrosse programs that includes 200 teams across the country.
Manny Rapkin stepped in after last season to take the head coaching reins from Jeff Guy, who left to move up to Division I by joining the staff of Princeton University. Rapkin joined the GCU staff as an assistant in time for the 2011 season, coming from Dominican College in California, where he spent four years on staff and the final two years as head coach.
But before that, Rapkin was an assistant coach at two Scottsdale schools, Desert Mountain High School and Saguaro High School.
Rapkin has turned the GCU program around from a 4-10 finish last year, when the team was still playing as a member of the Western Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association.
This year, the ‘Lopes competed in the Southwestern Lacrosse Conference and blew away the competition in winning the conference championship. They dominated Biola University in a 12-6 victory in the semi-finals, and then won 15 of 20 face-offs in the championship game to beat Cal State Fullerton, 11-5, for the title.
And now, thanks to a dramatic double-overtime win against Savannah College of Art & Design, the No. 10-seed ‘Lopes find themselves in the MCLA quarterfinals.
It was a couple of Scottsdale recruits that played big roles in the upset of No. 7-seed Savannah. A goal from Adam Schubert with five seconds left in the second overtime gave GCU a thrilling 6-5 win and a full head of steam going into today’s match with Grand Valley State University from Michigan, the No. 2 seed.
Schubert, a sophomore who plays the attack position, is a graduate of Horizon High School. And Kyle Mason, who led the offensive attack against Savannah with a pair of goals, is a sophomore from Scottsdale’s Saguaro High School.
And let’s not forget about the defense, where yet another Scottsdale recruit stepped up his game. Andrew Hunter, the senior goalie from Desert Mountain, contributed 13 saves in the win over Savannah. Hunter is the MCLA Defensive Player of the Year.
“Defensive stop after defensive stop showed why I think we have the chance to be the best in MCLA Division II,” said Rapkin after yesterday’s win. “If we play like this again tomorrow, and our offense shows up, I really like our chances against a really strong squad in Grand Valley.”
Even if it takes another double-overtime.
(Photo: GCU Athletics)