This is the first home opener in Saint Mary’s Stadium since the 2010 season, a 3-0 victory over UC Davis. That season, the Gaels began the year with seven straight victories.
The match-up with the Antelopes represents an early chance for fans to catch the Gaels in action. After the match with GCU, the Gaels are on the road for three weeks (five matches), playing in San Diego, Colorado and Wisconsin. SMC returns home for the Saint Mary’s College Classic on Sept. 13-15 which includes New Mexico, Lehigh and Pacific.
Head coach Kai Edwards is beginning his fifth year at the helm with a 33-38-8 overall record. The Gaels return 15 letterwinners and eight starters. The Gaels have a talented group of 11 newcomers, with many expected to contribute immediately.
The returners include Caroline Beaulne who is a Canada World Cup U19 member and scored two goals last season. Melinda Madden (four goals in 2012) and Vicki Shimkus (five goals, 13 points in 2012) return as SMC’s all-conference award winners. Anne Whipple and Casidee Lynch look to build on strong freshman campaigns, both starting 19 matches last year.
Grand Canyon is kicking off its first season as a Western Athletic Conference member after spending the previous years in the Pacific West Conference. The Antelopes have had four consecutive years with at least nine wins. GCU was picked to finish seventh in the WAC preseason poll (Seattle is the favorite).
This week's promotion at the Gaels vs. Antelopes match is the halftime end of summer water balloon fight.