(Photo: Scotty Bara/WCSN)
Separated by only 9.6 miles, the No. 12 Arizona State Sun Devils and the No. 4 Grand Canyon University Antelopes are set for a major clash in the SLC south.
The Lopes and the Sun Devils are both powerhouses in the MCLA, and these two teams have played every year since GCU was founded in 2011.
Grand Canyon won the national championship last year, while also beating the Sun Devils twice, including a one-goal heartbreaker in the SLC playoffs.
Based on the close proximity of the two schools, and being in the same conference, the matchup has been sparked into a rivalry.
“I think these guys are looking forward to playing GCU,” ASU assistant coach Steve Abba said. “We always do it’s a big rivalry game. There’s a little bit more pep in their step.”
Historically, the matchup between these two teams has been even. Each team has won three games against the other.
However, two of the Sun Devils wins have come in scrimmages against the Lopes in the first two years after Grand Canyon was founded as a college.
Those who know even a little bit of information about Arizona’s colleges know that ASU has another large rivalry with the University of Arizona.
Based on track record one would think that the rivalry with Arizona would trump the rivalry with GCU for the Sun Devils. Though, that may not be the case as the competition is stiff on both ends.
“For me personally you’re going out and trying to put your best on the field,” Beauchamp said. “How much that game means in the season or at that point what it can do for you whether its win or lose, it definitely brings the emotion level up or down, but it (the rivalry) is about the same.”
The competitive nature of the the games between GCU and ASU could be based on the close proximity of the two teams, as GCU is closer to ASU than U of A.
This game does not just mean a lot to the Sun Devils. Both teams look at this matchup as a competitive collision between two talented teams.
“I think it could end up being the best game so far between GCU and ASU,” GCU head coach Manny Rapkin said. “I think they’re going to be coming out with lots of focus. This (the game) might be more to them right now than it ever has been.”
Whether or not it is a rivalry game it is a division game as well, so it cannot be taken lightly.
The Lopes are on a three game winning streak while the Sun Devils are struggling to find answers and have dropped their last three.
“Trying to take the SLC is the majority of our focus,” Beauchamp said. “The SLC is really the important part and GCU is just another team is in our way.”
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