Pepperdine Waves women’s soccer begins the season with draws

Pepperdine senior Skylar Enge scores the Waves first goal via a penalty kick in the first half. Photo by McKenzie Jackson.

The Pepperdine Waves women’s soccer team was down but not out. 

The Waves trailed the visiting Michigan Wolverines by one goal in the second half of their contest on Aug. 19 at Pepperdine’s Tari Frahm Rokus Field. 

The Wolverines scored two goals in a six-minute span and momentum in the 90-minute match could have went their way completely. 

However, Pepperdine’s Tatum Wynalda struck four minutes later. The sophomore midfielder kicked the ball with her right foot into the net after her teammate, freshman midfielder Ava Verplancke, headed the ball her way off a free kick. 

Wynalda, a preseason All-West Coast Conference selection, said she was in the right spot at the right time.

“I can’t do what I do without everybody,” she said. “It feels great. I want to do anything I can to help my team.” 

Wynalda’s score was the last goal of the match, which ended 2-2.

Pepperdine Waves head coach Tim Ward said finishing with a tie is better then a digit in the loss column.

“I thought the girls looked like the team most likely to win,” he said of his bunch. “I’m super proud of the effort.”

The outcome was Pepperdine’s second draw in two days. The Waves opened their season with a 1-1 result with Georgetown, ranked 16th nationally, on Aug. 17 at home. Wynalda scored the Waves’ goal in the match.

Pepperdine began its contest against Michigan in a 4-2-3-1 formation, which uses four defenders, two defensive midfielders, three attacking midfielders, and a striker. Michigan lined up in a 4-1-4-1 formation, which consists of a back line of four defenders, a single midfielder, four midfielders, and a striker.

Ward said the match’s outcome was determined by the teams’ formations and their responses. He believed Michigan outplayed Pepperdine in match’s first 15 minutes. But then, Waves switched to a 4-4-2 look. The result was a point on the scoreboard.

Senior midfielder Skylar Enge gave Pepperdine a 1-0 lead when she converted a penalty kick after Tori Waldeck, a senior forward, was fouled on the left side of the box with the 23rd minute. 

The Waves had a few other scoring opportunities in the first 45 minutes but didn’t convert. Still, they outshot Michigan 8-2 in the first half.

The Wolverines changed their formation at the beginning of the second half and got positive results. Michigan’s Gabrielle Prych scored after Pepperdine goalkeeper Taylor Rath successfully defended a shot in the 47th minute. The Wolverine’s Sammi Woods gave her team a 2-1 lead with a scoring kick in the 53rd minute.

The Waves, said Ward, were shocked.

“They changed their shape and we saw it,” he said. “We thought we could adjust but didn’t. It felt like a left jab and then an uppercut.” 

Pepperdine adjusted and rallied, though.

“Our response was excellent,” Ward said. “We changed our shape and the girls on the field owned it. They regrouped, [and] organized themselves within our shape change. I thought the leadership from that point on was really good.”

Wynalda, Pepperdine’s second-leading scorer with eight goals last season, kicked the equalizer in the 57th minute.

Pepperdine outshot Michigan 15-10 in the match. Both teams had five shots on goal. Rath had three saves for Pepperdine. 

The Pepperdine-Georgetown match was scoreless for 66 minutes. Georgetown’s Natalie Means scored in the 67th minute. Twenty minutes later, Waves sophomore Kendall Campbell headed the ball to Wynalda, who in midair headed the ball toward the net. The ball bounced off the left post and rolled over the line, knotting the game at the ventual final score of 1-1. 

Enge said tying Georgetown and Michigan isn’t anything to frown upon.

“We are starting strong,” she said. “We have learned a lot from these games. We are going to get better.” 

The Waves play at San Diego State on Thursday and at Cal State Northridge on Sunday.

Pepperdine’s roster is mostly a mix of new players and returnees bouncing back from injury or getting more time on the field than they have in the past. Ward said Pepperdine can have a great season.

“We came from behind twice this weekend against two NCAA-tournament-type teams,” he noted. “We got better by playing those two games. I am proud of the girls. They know what they are capable of.”

Wynalda said the Waves just need to build chemistry with each other.

“Obviously, we want to go farther than any team has ever done,” she said. “We separate it by chunks, so first we are going to work on our preseason, be successful in preseason, then we move onto WCC, hopefully be successful in WCC.”