Pepperdine Women’s Soccer came rolling out of the gate against the University of California, San Diego, on Sept. 21 at Tari Frahm Rokus Field, defeating the Tritons 4-0.
This match up was the Waves’ last game of non-conference play. Prior to the game, Pepperdine only had two wins under their belt and head coach Tim Ward said they were frustrated with recent results. This frustration fueled the Waves strong start, scoring four goals in the first half.
“We’ve come out strong in other games and haven’t been able to put the ball in the back of the net,” senior forward Tori Waldeck said. “I am just really proud of our team.”
The Waves had no trouble putting the ball in the back of the net this time around. Within the first six minutes of play, Pepperdine had two goals on the board. Sophomore midfielder Karina Gonzalez put one away only 1:41 in, while Waldeck scored the second at 5:29.
“We started exactly how we wanted to,” Head coach Tim Ward said. “If it’s an arm wrestling match, we’re on top. It’s hard for anybody, ourselves or the opponent, to recover from that.”
The Waves continued to chip away at UCSD’s defense by applying constant pressure on the opposing backline early on in the match. Doing so allowed the Waves to win a penalty kick in the seventh minute. Senior midfielder Julianna Duckett stepped up to the spot and converted this chance, making it 3-0 against the Tritons.
“I was just thinking that I needed to put this away for my team,” Duckett said. “[After scoring] it was a sense of relief.”
Pepperdine was in complete control in the first half of the game. Aside from pressing to win the ball back, the Waves were also connecting some skillful passes in tight spaces. With a few one touch plays around the opposing team, Pepperdine could move quickly up the field to create more chances.
“Part of our identity is ball possession and ball movement,” Ward said. “In order to do that, you have to have good relationships with your teammates and a trust factor.”
This trust showed when the Waves attackers consistently found themselves in the right place at the right time. When a Pepperdine defender cleared the ball, it always seemed to land at a Pepperdine forward’s feet. Such was the case for Waldeck’s second goal in the 6th minute and the fourth goal of the game in the 17th.
“Always be on your toes and ready for the next play, because you never know when the ball might go your way,” Waldeck said. “I’m always anticipating because if my teammates are going to work hard to win the ball, I’m going to work hard to put it in the back of the net.”
After a Pepperdine-favored first half, the UCSD Tritons had some more offensive firepower in the second half. The Tritons recorded four shots in the second half, but the Waves could weather the storm and keep their clean sheet.
“Sometimes like a fighter, you have to absorb some of the punches,” Ward said. “And we did that. The girls in the second half did a better job maintaining our rhythm; it was a good performance.”
Pepperdine’s first half goals proved to be enough, as they were the only goals recorded throughout the entire game. The Waves defeated the Tritons 4-0 to close out non-conference play.
“This game meant everything for us going into the WCC,” Duckett said. “We really needed this win and we came out really strong. This is a great confidence booster going into the WCC.”
Pepperdine begins WCC play Saturday, Sept. 30 at 1 p.m. against Santa Clara at Santa Clara.
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