BOULDER, Colo. – Two Canterbury D1A top-15 teams, which had drastically different outcomes in their first matches of 2016, will square off Friday, Jan. 15, as Arizona hosts Saint Mary’s.
The Gaels are coming off their annual fixture against senior club titan San Francisco Golden Gate. A plethora of turnovers by Saint Mary’s made things easy for Golden Gate, as the San Francisco club side leveled its collegiate counterpart, 44-3. Meanwhile, Arizona also took on a nearby team in Grand Canyon University. The Wildcats were keen to hit the ground running in the New Year, and did just that with their 59-3 hammering of the ‘Lopes.
A 41-point loss by the reigning National Champions could be labeled a surprise, but shouldn’t necessarily be deemed alarming. Last January, Saint Mary’s fell to Golden Gate in a similar fashion, 48-17. However, lessons were learned from that match and problems were fixed in plenty of time for the Gaels to go on and win a D1A National Championship four months later.
In the Arizona camp, a win over Grand Canyon was no shocker, but the 56-point spread against a team with far more talent than the name on the front of their kit would suggest was a positive start for a Wildcat team with D1A Playoff aspirations.
Regardless of each team’s outcome from the previous week, the Gaels’ visit to Tucson, Ariz., will be a steep task for the Wildcats.
“Saint Mary’s is a strong, well-coached program,” complimented Arizona Head Coach Sean Duffy. “It should be an exciting weekend, and as our home opener, there’s no better way to open the year than to bring the 2015 champs to Sitton Field to see how we stack up.”
Duffy won’t have six of his younger Wildcats for selection, with six of his players attending the Men’s Junior All-American camp this weekend – two of which started against the ‘Lopes. The Gaels might not select their best 15 to start Friday, either. Following tomorrow’s game against Arizona, Saint Mary’s will make the short drive north to Tempe in preparation for a Jan. 17 contest against another quality side in Arizona State. With a fixture against the Sun Devils awaiting the Gaels at the tail end of the weekend trip, a few names we’re accustomed to seeing on the team sheet might take up a place on the bench against Arizona.