(by Jesse Vineyard)
SAN DIEGO -- With an unusually overcast and soggy day as the backdrop, No. 2 Grand Canyon (5-0) survived a last-quarter push from San Diego State to defeat the Aztecs, 10-7, on the road Saturday.
Similar to the victory over Boston College, Grand Canyon used a third-quarter surge to pull away. Leading 5-2 at halftime, Cam Wengreniuk started the rush with a goal two minutes into the quarter.
Spencer Tate scored his first of the year minutes later before Wengreniuk added his second less than a minute after that to give GCU an 8-2 edge.
A five-minute lull ended with Jordan Vicente putting in his third goal of the game to send the Lopes into the final quarter with a comfortable 9-2 lead.
The cushion may have been too comfortable, as the Aztecs went straight to work in the fourth. SDSU scored twice in the first two minutes, then tallied another with 11:25 left.
The comeback attempt continued as the Aztecs added another at the eight-minute mark, and fought for a fifth with three minutes remaining to pull within two, 9-7.
That would be as close as SDSU would get, however. Wengreniuk tossed in his third of the game with a minute left to end the comeback and seal the win.
The Lopes recorded 23 shots in the first half, but just 15 in the second, and only six in the fourth quarter.
“We weren’t really focused to start, then we found out we were in a game,” Lopes’ coach Manny Rapkin said. “We got it together in the third offensively, then went right back to how we started the game in the fourth.”
Saturday’s third quarter went about as well as GCU’s entire performance against Boston College. Focus and patience gave the Lopes the big lead, but the reverse happened in the fourth.
A quick trip and wet conditions made for a different challenge, but Rapkin saw that as no excuse for the tight victory.
“[SDSU] is a well-coached team, and they’re not going to give up,” Rapkin said. “We relaxed a little bit in the fourth. When we’re focused, we’re as good as anybody. But when we’re not, we’re going to struggle.”
Vicente recorded his first career hat trick, and Wengreniuk’s three goals gives him a total of 13 on the season. Cam Welter, Cian Petersen and Logan Phillips also scored for GCU.
Next up for the Lopes is a home contest against Sonoma State on Saturday, March 17. In Sonoma State, Rapkin sees an unranked team who would want nothing more than for an upset win on the road.
There wasn’t much of a locker room message after the win – except knowing there needs to be continued work on the details.
“There’s only so much talking you can do,” Rapkin said. “It’s evident that focus on the offensive side of the ball is our challenge right now. We have to be consistent doing the micro stuff, and let the other stuff take care of itself.”
Game time is 2 p.m. at Prescott Field and admission is free.