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GCU Hands BYU Painful Loss

They say attitude makes all the difference. It certainly did in BYU’s lopsided loss to Grand Canyon University at the Cougar’s south field on a frigid Friday night. Grand Canyon came out with plenty of swagger and backed it up by handing BYU its’ second loss of the season, 12 to 4.
The game started well for the Cougars with a face off win from freshman Jack Vassau. There was an immediate flag, and BYU got an early extra man opportunity, but GCU goalie Brandon Suchand deflected the shot, recovering possession. Cougar long-stick middie Max Neser forced a turnover, blew down field and then passed to Connor Williams who put the first goal on the board. BYU secured possession on the next series, and GCU called a timeout. When the Cougars came back on the field, middie Zach Labrum put them up by two with an overhead shot from the top of the arc. Vassau won the draw and the Cougs went to work again, but Lopes’ goalie Suchand settled in making a great save, and then cleared quickly, giving GCU a fast break. GCU middie Austin Ekeroth, assisted by Dean Fairall, BYU GCU 2016 3put their first goal on the board at the midway point in the quarter. BYU continued to win in the draw, but GCU defenders Tim Mahaney, Braden Sparks and Lucas de Jong stopped their shots. GCU took possession, passed it around and senior attackman Drew Dziadyk scored unassisted burning around the right side crease. The Lopes lost the draw, but dialed up their defense quickly, taking the ball away. Dziadyk scored again unassisted and the Cougars’ momentum was gone. The quarter wound down with tough D from both teams preventing further goals. At the end of one it was BYU 2, GCU 3.
BYU started the second quarter with a one-minute man-up on a stick violation against GCU. The Cougars were unable to score during the extra man, but just after the all-even, freshman attackman Winston Farley tied the game with a scorching high-to-high shot on a fast break assisted by Neser. GCU won the next draw, but Cougar goalie Matt Brandenburg reeled in their shot and cleared. The Cougars offense went to work against a wicked Lopes defense whose pressure caused every shot to miss the mark. The stalemate was broken midway through the quarter when Cougar middie Max Ash ran the circumference of the field, and then cranked in a goal giving BYU the lead. The Cougs secured the next draw and called a time-out to design a play. The shot was saved, and CGU transitioned to another perfect clear capped off by a hat trick from Dziadyk. The half ended in a 4-4 tie.
The second half of this game was all Lopes, who put the pedal to the medal and never looked back. They secured the first draw and senior attackman Joe Balestrerie scored unassisted. The Cougars gave GCU a man-up, and Balestrerie scored again assisted by Cam Wengreniuk. After securing the next draw, GCU was in the driver’s seat, but a bright spot for BYU was a pickoff from Connor Williams. Suchand saved the shot, and cleared to his offense despite BYU’s full-field pressure. GCU took the ball down field and Ryan McDonald scored unassisted. Suddenly the confident Lopes’ had a three-goal lead. Vassau secured the next draw, but BYU’s shot was turned away. With 7:06 left in the third McDonald scored again and the Cougar ship was sinking fast. Brandenburg was doing his best to fend off the volley of GCU shots, but the Cougar offense struggled to keep possession and failed to get any shots off. BYU’s defense was trying to stop the bleeding, but at the end of three the Cougs had a four-goal deficit to overcome, down 8 to 4.BYU GCU 2016 1
Grand Canyon was unstoppable. They started the last quarter with the face and quickly gained a man-up. Wengreniuk added another nail to BYU’s coffin. GCU won the next face off, and attacked again. Their first shot was deflected down, but Dziadyk grabbed the ground ball and put it back in for his fourth goal of the game. GCU continued dominating the offensive possession, called time with 7:12 left in the game, and once back on the field, executed another perfect play, Dziakyk scoring assisted by Wengreniuk. BYU came up with the next draw, and finally had a decent offensive possession, but their shots were messed with, all going off cage. The Lopes recovered and took the ball the other way. They finished the game with one last goal from their points’ leader, Balestrerie.
Grand Canyon played from the opening draw like the defending champs they are: controlling the time of possession and never allowing BYU to get in rhythm. Coach Schneck said he told his players after the game it was inevitable to have a bad night, and that was what happened tonight. He stated, “It doesn’t change what we believe we are capable of accomplishing. The game exposed some weaknesses that we will have to pay special attention to. Grand Canyon did a great job putting a lot of pressure on our offense and we feel like there’s some things we will need to work on in practice.”
BYU has three of their next four games against ranked opponents, and will have to clean up some of their sore spots from tonight. Grand Canyon had a great week with big wins over Boise State, the University of Utah, and BYU. Their next opponent is Arizona State on Friday, April 1st. BYU has the week off, and then will go on the road to meet University of Colorado on Thursday, April 7th.

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