Junior midfielder Tori Waldeck struggles for the ball in a spring season scrimmage game March 12, at Tari Frahm Rokus Field. The Waves lost 4-1 against a Japanese All-Star team.
Pepperdine Women’s Soccer lost to the Japanese All Star in a scrimmage at Tari Frahm Rokus Field on March 12, with a final score of 4-1. The Waves played the game on a backdrop of fog that, despite making the surroundings invisible, held off from enveloping the field, giving players adequate visibility.
Several new faces took the field for the Waves in their fourth spring game. The Waves had won their three previous spring games, the first being against Long Beach State and the latter two against teams in Costa Rica during the Waves’ Costa Rica Foreign Tour.
“There’s 21 amazing women that are returning,” Ward said. “They each have this big opportunity to really take the next step.”
The Waves lost seven seniors from their fall campaign. This came in addition to 10 players being unable to take the field March 12 — six due to injury, four due to COVID-19, Ward said.
Despite deficiencies in personnel, the Waves held their own against a Japanese All Star team, Ward said. Much of the first half would see a standoff. Japan maintained a slight advantage in possession, however, neither team made any outwardly aggressive moves toward the goal.
“What you saw was a very cautious game of chess in the beginning,” Ward said. “Very calculated from both teams, trying not to lose the ball in a certain part of the field.”
Towards the middle of the first half, shots were exchanged, with Japan making shots on goal in the 19th and 24th minutes. Freshman forward Melinda Livadas attempted to push forward only minutes after the second shot.
Throughout the first half, junior midfielder Tori Waldeck established a leadership presence on the field, with frequent encouragement and on-field adjustments. Waldeck and junior midfielder Skylar Enge are the two co-captains for the Waves.
“It’s our job to be that vocal leader on the field,” Waldeck said. “Especially as you don’t have many sounds right now.”
Along with being able to bring her age and experience to the field as an upper-class student, Waldeck said her vocal nature keeps herself going and prevents herself from tiring.
The first goal came in the backend of the first half as Japan netted a shot in the upper left corner of the Waves goal in the 32nd minute, making the score 1-0 Japan going into halftime.
The Waves began the second half strong, as Waldeck worked with sophomore defender Kam Pickett, building attacks through a chain of passes. In addition, freshman goalkeeper Taylor Rath displayed several deft saves.
However, Japan found the back of the net once more in the 57th minute as the ball skirted past Rath and implanted itself into the bottom left corner of the net, making the score 2-0 Japan.
“They made changes at halftime,” Ward said. “Their two best strikes came out in the second half and just caused us lots of problems.”
Ward said the opposing team was an incredibly talented group of young women, most notably their forwards, No. 9 and No. 11.
“They caused us some issues in the second half,” Ward said. “And fatigue was a factor. We have very few subs.”
Freshman midfielder Karina Gonzalez responded with a shot on goal in the 66th minute.
“Karina is just a rock wherever you need her,” Waldeck said. “She’ll work hard 24/7.”
Despite this, Japan scored two more goals in the 70th and 78th minutes, making the score 4-0 Japan.
The 78th minute, however, would not only see one goal. The Waves would respond almost immediately with a goal of their own. Waldeck, with an assist from Pickett, scored in the 78th minute, making the score 4-1 Japan.
Ward said he was proud of the attack at the end, citing it as a show of the team’s character and resilience.
“We’re not going down without a fight,” Ward said. “The girls showed a lot of character, a lot of spirit, and the goal we did score was beautiful.”
Ward said, while this game was a step back, he also noted a step back could sometimes be considered two steps forward.
“What I could take away from playing this very talented team is that I could play faster,” Gonzalez said. “Execute a lot faster. Really shooting when you have the chance.”
Gonzalez said leaders on the team, including, but not limited to Waldeck, have allowed her to express herself fully on the field and communicate with the team at a higher level.
“I’m proud of all of our young players,” Waldeck said. “They have to step into a role right now that they might not have expected. I’m just really proud of them.”
Waldeck said the program’s current theme is “Semper Fi” — always faithful.
“We’re just focusing on that right now,” Waldeck said. “Remaining faithful to one another, to our mission, to our program and just each other as the spring season continues.”
The Waves’ next game will be March 19, at home against CSU Bakersfield.
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