THE MALIBU TIMES Athlete of the Week: Lynn Williams, Freshman, Pepperdine University Women’s Soccer

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Lynn Williams, Freshman, Pepperdine University Women’s Soccer. Photo by Dick Dornan / TMT

Four games into the season, Lynn Williams is making waves across the soccer landscape at Pepperdine University. Williams, an 18-year-old freshman, has opened the season with three goals, including two at California State University, Fullerton on Aug. 26 that pulled out an unlikely victory for Pepperdine against the Titans.

With Pepperdine trailing 1-0 and less than a minute remaining in the contest, Williams struck a rebound blast into the back of the net off her own missed shot to tie the game with 44 seconds left.

“All I heard from a teammate was ‘shoot it as hard as you can and as low as you can.’ I kicked it and it hit the wall of players,” Williams said. “My heart sank and I thought I ruined it by missing the shot. But the ball happened to bounce right back to me and I thought again to hit it as ‘hard as you can and low as you can.’ I didn’t notice I scored until I saw it in the net. It was amazing, especially being my second goal here at the college level.”

The late equalizer sent the game into overtime, but Williams was just getting started. Seven minutes into the sudden death overtime period, Williams doubled her tally on the day when she slammed a powerful shot from 35 yards out into the left side of the net, and the Waves emerged with an exhilarating 2-1 overtime win.

“It was the best feeling of my life,” Williams said. “I was happy, but personally it made me happier that I did it for the team and see everyone celebrate as a team.”

Her first collegiate goal came against the University of Arizona in a 2-0 Waves victory at home Aug. 21. Williams nailed a hard shot that beat the Wildcat goalkeeper with its speed and accuracy. Judging by her coach’s response, “shooting it hard and low” comes naturally to Williams.

“Her goal against Arizona and her second goal versus Cal State Fullerton were just laser beam shots,” Pepperdine Head Coach Tim Ward said. “Those were shots that you don’t really see at this level.”

The native of Fresno was one of the Waves’ top recruits this past off-season. Williams was named the Central Valley Player of the Year in 2011 after she scored a school single-season record of 50 goals for Bullard High School. She also holds the career goals scored at Bullard with 117.

That goal-scoring prowess has helped Williams to blend seamlessly into the Pepperdine team upon her arrival in Malibu. She was the only freshman to start in the opening weekend when she took the field at forward. The Waves began last week at 4-0 and ranked number 24 in the country.

“Lynn is special. In all these years, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anybody quite as athletic as Lynn,” Ward, who is entering into his 14th season as the Waves head coach, said. “What is beautiful about Lynn is that she is very humble about her abilities. Whether she is scoring goals or drawing defenders, she changes the game.”

Williams’s early-season form as a true freshman leads Ward to believe that she may not be hanging up her boots when her college playing days are over.

“I believe she has the ability to play at the national team level someday,” Ward said. “She has the athleticism, finishing ability and the work ethic to get there. She is definitely a diamond in the rough and a blessing to our program.”

But dreams of one day playing in the Women’s World Cup are far from Williams’s mind at the moment. Williams says she is happy to be a part of a team that she feels has the ingredients to have a successful season.

“We have amazing coaches,” Williams said. “The players in general have been so nice and welcoming. They encourage me and always say ‘give it your all.’ We want to reach our goal of winning the West Coast Conference and making the NCAA Tournament. We have confidence in each other but we have a lot to work on. We need to keep working hard.”