The defending national champion Grand Canyon University Lopes enter the 2016 season right where they finished in 2015 — ranked No. 1 in the preseason in both the Nike/Lacrosse Magazine Preseason Top 20 and the Under Armor MCLA Coaches Poll. The Lopes lost dynamic scorer Carson Barton to graduation — and the NLL draft — but return attackmen Dean Fairall and Drew Dziadyk, the team’s second- and third-leading scorers last season.
Grand Canyon assistant coach Jeff Guy shared his thoughts on the 2016 Lopes:
We are anticipating that 2016 will be a highly competitive season in the SLC. We have returned several starters from last season but will also have to replace a number of key players and All-Americans from 2015. We are not holding on to our success from last season, nor looking ahead too far in the future. We continue to work on the things that we believe will make us successful on a daily basis.
Grand Canyon Players to Watch
- Dean Fairall, senior, attack: First-team All-American in 2015. Great hands, hard worker, great finisher, leader on offense.
- Drew Dziadyk, senior, attack: Second-team All-American in 2015. Big, strong, great finisher, good lacrosse IQ.
- Brandon Suchand, junior, goalie: Honorable Mention All-American in 2015. Captain, defensive Leader, coach on the field, great lacrosse IQ and outstanding work ethic. Anticipating that he will have another outstanding season in 2016.
- Austin Ekeroth, junior, midfielder: Big, strong, fast, athletic. Big-time shot from the outside and a dynamic dodger.
2016 will be a successful season if …
… we continue to work hard on a daily basis, concentrate on the process every week and stay focused on the details that make us successful.
— Jeff Guy, GCU assistant coach
— Randy Gibb (@RandyGibbCCOB) January 28, 2016
The Lopes feature a number of players on their roster who have local ties:
Josh Gruwell, sophomore, middie, Edison
Nathan Smith, junior, LSM, Aliso Niguel
Brandon Suchand, junior, goalie, St. Margaret’s Episcopal
Taner Kamisato, freshman, middie, Fountain Valley
Michael Whittall, freshman, middie, Chaparral
San Diego County
Christian Essex, sophomore, defender, Del Norte
Joe Balestrerie, junior, attack, Rancho Bernardo
Vicente Jordan, freshman, middie, Eastlake
Austin Ekeroth, junior, middie, Rancho Bernardo
Anthony Hughes, freshman, middie, Olympian