Photos by Kyle McCabe.
The Waves took care of business Sunday afternoon, defeating the San Diego State Aztecs 2-0. After a quick first-half goal, Pepperdine dominated the statistics box the rest of the game but only managed one more score.
The Waves are no stranger to protecting an early lead. In their win over No. 2 Stanford on Friday, Pepperdine scored in the 19th minute before sitting back and protecting their one goal lead.
The Aztecs and the Cardinal are two different teams, though, and the Waves employed different strategies against each.
“I would definitely say Friday was a lot faster of a tempo,” senior Hailey Stenberg said. “Today, I think it was nice to be able to control that tempo.”
The pace of play was fundamental to Pepperdine’s success against the Aztecs. The Waves dictated the tempo more in this game than they have all season.
“We pride ourselves on generally being the team that controls the tempo and pace of the game,” Head Coach Tim Ward said. “I thought today was better. But we’re in process in that area. But it was much better than it has been.”
Freshman Shelby Little celebrates her second goal of the season Sunday against San Diego State.
Pepperdine’s first goal Sunday came off the right foot of freshman Shelby Little. In the 10th minute, redshirt freshman Olivia Packer and junior Brie Welch worked the ball in close to the San Diego State goal area, where Little battled for position and put the ball into the top of the net.
“Brie [Welch], one of our forwards, got a touch on it, and I was just in front of the goal,” Little said. “I just did anything I could to get it in.”
The Waves kept the pressure on throughout the rest of the game, outshooting the Aztecs 14-4. The pressure resulted in another goal about halfway through the second half.
In the 69th minute, a San Diego State defender blocked a shot by sophomore Nicolette Lewis. Stenberg collected the rebound, shook off another defender and ricocheted a shot off the right post and into the net.
”I just got on top of the box,” Stenberg said. “I just felt pressure. Just cut it back, and we’ve been working on shooting all week, so it kind of just felt natural.”
This is Pepperdine’s second straight win and third of the season. San Diego State extends their winless streak to five games and falls to 1-5-1 on the season.
The Waves have played three teams ranked in the top 12 this season. In those games, they won one, tied one and lost one. Ward said that his team’s record does not represent how good they really are.
“Our schedule is not for the faint of heart,” Ward said. “We’re capable of beating anybody on any day. But it’s day by day, game by game. And I hope that our girls play with a lot of confidence in Hawaiʻi.”
The Hawaii games are part of the Rainbow Wahine Shootout, which features Pepperdine, No. 13 Washington State, No. 5 University of California, Los Angeles and Hawaiʻi. The Waves will play UCLA on Sept. 19 and Washington State on Sept. 22.
“I think we have two really good opportunities to make a statement with the teams we are playing,” Little said. “I think we’ve kind of been known as the underdogs, so it’ll be good to make a statement.”
Redshirt freshman Kinsey Ehmann attempts to clear the ball out of the Pepperdine zone Sunday.
Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Kinsey Ehmann made her third start Sunday. Her first appearance came against Vanderbilt on Sept. 1 after Zoe Clevely exited the game due to injury. Ehmann is 2-1 as a starter with a shutout in each of the wins.
“[Ehmann]’s a Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Arizona,” Ward said. “I think she’s showing everybody right now that she’s got the goods even though she might be young. I think she’s got a great career ahead of her.”
Ehmann’s second shutout came easier than the first. She made nine saves against Stanford but did not face a shot on goal against San Diego State.
Little said Ehmann’s performance against Stanford motivated the team to lighten her load Sunday.
“We knew [Ehmann] was back there,” Little said. “We knew we had to protect her, so we really just wanted to work for her because she was amazing.”
Pepperdine only has three more non-conference games this season, including the two in Hawaiʻi. Ward said that the team is not thinking about conference play yet, though.
“We’re sort of just taking it game by game,” Ward said. “We’re just trying to finish non-conference strong.”
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