Women's Soccer Season Outlook
Aug. 12, 2011
MALIBU, Calif. - Returning all but two starters from a year ago, the 2011 Waves look to use their experience, coupled with a strong group of newcomers to fight their way into the NCAA Tournament. This year's deep squad provides many different looks and options for head coach Tim Ward, who plans to take advantage of the depth at every position on the field.
"We have amazing depth," Ward explains, in his 14th year at the helm for the Waves. "It has been maybe five years since we have had this kind of depth and athleticism across the board. We are not short on athleticism, depth or industriousness."
The 2010 squad finished with a record of 9-6-5 overall and 2-3-2 in conference play, to tie for fifth place in the West Coast Conference. Despite a strong push at the end of the season, and some quality wins against perennial favorites UCLA and Santa Clara, the Waves were unable to make the postseason. Coach Ward is aware that soccer can be a trying sport at times, where the stronger team doesn't always prevail.
"It is a strong group. I am cautiously optimistic. Soccer can humble you, when you can lose and tie games that you dominate, that happened to us a bit last year, but I just think we are getting better. I am excited."
The Waves have set up a challenging schedule this season. In addition to the tough WCC slate, nonconference matchups include Pac-12, Big 10 and SEC teams.
"I try not to focus too much on the opposition, but we have a tough schedule," Ward, who is assisted by Twila Kaufman, Jennifer Brewer and Ian Feuer, explains. "The reality is we are not playing powder puff. There is a schedule we could have created that would have led to more W's, easy W's, a lot more peaceful nights for me as a coach to sleep. But I think that we promise all of our recruits that if you come to Pepperdine, you will play one of the top schedules in the country, every single year. I think this team is ready for that schedule. We will find out. I do think this group is up for it. "
As in year's past, the key for success for this Pepperdine team will be goal scoring. The team improved in 2010 with 26 goals scored, after scoring just 18 in 2009. The Waves will again look to make that kind of scoring jump in 2011, hoping to find the net more often and turn a few ties and close losses in their favor.
"I think we are going to be in every single game this year. There is no doubt in my mind. Defensively, athletically, we are going to be in every single game. At the end of the day, it comes down to scoring goals. I think our players are up for the challenge. I think they have improved a lot. They are more clinical with their finishing, more efficient with the chances they get. That sort of comes with experience," says Ward, who boasts a 144-81-35 career record at Pepperdine.
Those much improved finishers include forward Laura Cole (Whittier, Calif./La Habra HS), the leading goal scorer for the team last season, returns for her senior campaign after earning All-WCC honorable mention honors in 2010. Joining Cole are strong finishers in junior forwards Anisa Guajardo (Clovis, Calif./Buchanan HS), Michelle Manning (Calabasas, Calif./Agoura HS) and Callie Payetta (Huntington Beach, Calif./Huntington Beach HS). Those four returners accounted for 22 of the team's 26 goals in 2010. The Waves also adds a strong crop of quality attacking personalities to the lineup with freshmen Amanda LeCave (Windsor, Calif./Windsor HS), Ally Holtz (Honolulu, Hawaii/Punahou School) and Lynn Williams (Fresno, Calif./Bullard HS). Redshirt sophomore Katie Rivers(Vancouver, Wash./Mountain View HS) has been transitioning from defender to more of an attacking position and has looked comfortable up front with some strong finishes in preseason scrimmages. She will look to get into the mix as well.
In the midfield, the Waves return all but one starter from last year. The team spends a lot of time on possession and ball winning within its system of play. Junior defender/midfielder Ana Pontes (Houston, Texas/Clear Lake HS), sophomore defender/midfielder Katie Gallanes (Yorba Linda, Calif./Esperanza HS) and senior midfielder Karissa Garcia(Roseville, Calif./Oakmont HS) will monopolize most of the minutes in the defensive midfield position. Pontes also has the ability to drop back to the defensive line if needed.
Payetta, Cole and junior midfielder/forward Jennifer Karson (Frazier Park, Calif./Frazier Mountain HS) will fight for the attacking midfielder spot. Joining this solid group include freshman midfielder/forward Kristine Hilliard (North Ogden, Utah/Weber HS) and freshman midfielder/forward Micaela Cervantes(San Diego, Calif./Mission Bay HS). Hilliard, Utah's Female Soccer Athlete of the Year for 2010-11, is projected to be a midfielder at the college level and will fit into the fold. Cervantes has the potential to play anywhere on the field, but will provide depth in the midfield.
The versatility of newcomers Cervantes and Holtz give the squad the ability to change its shape and throw different looks at opponents. The development of true wide attacking midfielders, to join senior defender/forward Myriah Stockman (Sandy, Utah/Brighton HS) and sophomore defender/forward Michelle Pao (Cupertino, Calif./Monta Vista HS) provide more weapons for the Waves. Stockman was named All-WCC honorable mention in 2010 and Pao represented the Waves as an All-WCC first team and All-WCC Freshman team selection. She became the first freshman Wave since 1996 to be named All-WCC. The squad will look for her to have another standout season.
On the defensive half, the Waves will present an experienced and fit back line, with Stockman, redshirt junior defender Kelsea Smith (Camarillo, Calif./Oaks Christian HS), sophomore defender/midfielder Kristin DeGrandmont (Portland, Ore./Jesuit HS) and Pao as the anchors. Along with returning junior goalkeeper Roxanne Barker (Irvine, Calif./Woodbridge HS), the team produced the third-lowest goals against average in school history last season with.76 goals allowed per game. Smith, DeGrandmont and Barker join Cole and Stockman as All-WCC honorable mention selections. Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Carolyn Dapper (Edmonds, Wash./King’s School) is a year wiser and better and will challenge for playing time in goal.
A new group of capable defenders join the squad in true freshmen Courtney Assumma (Temecula, Calif./Temecula Valley HS), Nikki McKee (Walnut, Calif./Walnut HS), Bri Lariviere (Camarillo, Calif./Camarillo HS), Jackie Pedrazza (Cupertino, Calif./Monta Vista HS) and Lisa Santroch(Shoreline, Wash./Shorewood HS). The new crop is versatile, with players that can play on either side, or anchor the middle and will fight for playing time in the back.
Coach Ward concludes, "The key is experience and then we added 10 great players. The depth is better. If we can get everyone on the same page and improve the quality in front of goal and I think we can beat a lot of people."
The Waves get the 2011 campaign underway on Friday, August 19 as they travel to Berkeley, Calif. to face California at 3 p.m. PT. They then return to Tari Frahm Rokus Field for the home opener on Sunday, August 21 at 1 p.m. PT as they play host to Arizona.