An early goal gave the Pepperdine Waves women’s soccer team an early lead against the Portland Pilots on Oct. 2. Two scores in the second half were just icing on the cake for the Waves as they downed the visiting Pilots, 3-0, at Tari Frahm Rokus Field.
The victory gave the Waves ranked sixth in national polls at presstime, a 10-1 record, the best start in program history, heading into their game at San Diego on Wednesday.
Pepperdine head coach Tim Ward was excited that his club collected a win over Portland and noted the Waves take everything one contest at a time.
“We pursue a game in the way that we just want to get better,” he said. “Play better defense; play better offense. We approach each week of training with a mindset of ‘Can we get better today?’ The process is the most important thing.”
Waves junior midfielder Carla Giammona kicked Pepperdine’s first goal in match’s first two minutes. Giammona received a pass from Joelle Anderson, a redshirt senior forward, from the left side of the pitch she then hammered the ball with her right foot past Portland’s goalkeeper.
Ward said Pepperdine has done a good job starting contests strong.
“I don’t know how many goals it has been in our wins, but we have a lot of goals in the first five, first 10 minutes of the game,” he said. “It changes the game. When you get up 1-0, everyone plays a bit more relaxed.
“If you can get out and get an early goal,” Ward continued, “the other team has to change their tactics. They have to come at you and that leaves them more exposed in the back.”
The pressure the Waves’ offense continually put on Portland’s backline paid off with 67:40 on the clock. Sophomore Tori Waldeck drew a foul on the Pilots’ goalie. Trinity Watson, a senior defender, then nailed a penalty kick to give Pepperdine a two-goal lead.
Waldeck then kicked a goal around four minutes later. She received a left-footed pass from Giammona on the right side of the box. With her right boot, Waldeck, 22 yards out, hit nothing but the back of the net as she sent the ball past Portland’s goalkeeper.
The score was Waldeck’s second goal in three games. She has four this season. Giammona and Watson also have four goals each this season. Watson also is three-for-three in penalty kicks.
The Waves spent most of the contest on the offensive. They peppered the Pilots defense with 17 shots including seven shots on goal. Pepperdine also had four corner kicks.
Waves goalkeeper Zoe Clevely, a redshirt senior, had one save and earned her sixth solo shutout of the season. She is now in sixth place on Pepperdine’s all-time career solo shutouts list and is tied for ninth in wins.
Pepperdine had seven shutouts this season including four in a row at the beginning of the week. The Waves downed Texas A&M, 1-0, 13 days before they beat Portland.
The victory over the Pilots marked the beginning of West Coast Conference play for Pepperdine.
Pepperdine plays at Loyola Marymount Saturday at 4 p.m. The bunch hosts No. 16 Gonzaga on Oct. 16 at 12 p.m. The Waves play at defending national champion Santa Clara on Oct. 20 at 7 p.m.
Ward said a highlight of the season has been the leadership of the Pepperdine upperclassmen.
“Those women have done a brilliant job,” he said, “just being strong, in control and mentoring.”
Ward’s bunch has four more games on its regular season schedule after the Santa Clara matchup.
Florida State, Virginia, UCLA, Duke and North Carolina are the only teams ranked ahead of the Waves in the top 25.
The NCAA Championships begin next month. The furthest Pepperdine has made it in the tournament is the Sweet Sixteen. Ward said this year’s team wants to play deeper into the postseason event.
“We are trying to stay humble and hungry, live one day at a time, get better, and keep our eyes fixed on one another,” he said. “At the end of the year, when the dust settles, maybe we’ll have played more games than any other team in Pepperdine soccer history.”