It’s hard to say that a team that reached the national semifinals last year is now enjoying a breakthrough season. So we won’t say it. We’ll just say that Grand Canyon University is doing a great job this spring of build on its prior success.

The Antelopes remain undefeated with a 9-0 record and are perched, for the third straight week, at No. 2 in the Women's Collegiate Lacrosse Associates (WCLA) Division II national poll. The high-powered offense has tallied 14 goals or better in six games, while the defense has kept eight of nine opponents to single-digits in goals.

Perhaps inspired by last year’s success, the players have been highly motivated to succeed since the start of the 2017 campaign.

“We set high standards and created team goals and our players work hard each day to be better than the day before,” said first-year coach Tracy Gallihugh. “They push not only themselves but their teammates to improve daily.”

Gallihugh points to the Desert Lacrosse Tournament in mid-March, where the Antelopes won four games in three days, as the turning point for the season. It all came together that weekend for GCU, based in Phoenix.

“We really fed off of each other’s skills and strengths, and kept a positive attitude through that whole weekend,” she said. “We played with confidence and composure.”

Junior Kelsey Wood and sophomore Lexi Ortt have been among the offensive catalysts, while sophomore Bri Healy and goalie Caitlin Paine have served as defensive anchors. Beyond the individuals however, Gallihugh notes that great team unity has been the real driver for GCU’s success.

“It has helped a lot that the team has great compatibility and has become a very close-knit group through the time they spend together,” Gallihugh said. 

GCU closes out its regular season with a final home game on April 9 against UC Irvine, and begins play in the WWLL (Western Women’s Lacrosse League) playoffs on April 21. The only thing left after that is a chance to capture the national championship at the WCLA Championships, May 10-13 in Salt Lake City.

“Being ranked second is very exciting for all of us,” Gallihugh said. “It is an accomplishment to see our school in the national rankings, however, we know that the job is not done yet.”

WCLA Division 2 National Top 20


March 28, 2017




1 Denver 7-2 152 1
2 Grand Canyon 9-0 151 2
3 Loyola (Md.) Club 5-1 143 4
4 Concordia 9-1 138 3
5 SMU 7-1 128 5
6 Cornell Club 5-0 119 8
7 Texas Christian 6-1 102 6
8 Oakland 3-0 96 7
9 UC San Diego 4-1 77 9
10t Providence 4-2 69 16
10t Utah State 2-3 69 11
12 Texas State 7-4 55 12
13 Utah 2-0 45 18
14 St. Benedict 2-2 44 NR
15t Dayton 4-0 38 NR
15t East Carolina Club 3-2 38 13
17 Iowa State 2-1 30 18
18 Washington State 7-2 28 14
19 Portland State 7-2 22 NR
20 Grand Valley Club 4-1 20 NR