MALIBU, Calif. – The No. 17 Pepperdine women’s soccer team scored arguably the most significant non-conference victory in program history on Sunday, taking down storied North Carolina, 1-0, at Tari Frahm Rokus Field.
The Waves got a beautiful second half goal from Lynn Williams to defeat the ninth-ranked Tar Heels, just days after UNC played No. 1 UCLA to a scoreless draw. The victory was the third straight shutout for the Waves, who move to 4-0-0 on the year.
“This is a significant win in the history of our program,” said head coach Tim Ward, who is in his 17th season at the helm for the Waves. “It’s big not just in terms of who we beat, but how we did it. We had a lot of the ball and created some really good opportunities. I thought we were going to get one in the first half, but at halftime you could sense there was a calm about the team and they were ready to go out and win it.”
Pepperdine outshot the Tar Heels 5-2 in the opening period, putting a pair of balls on target in the half. Meghan Schoen (Sherwood, Ore./Sherwood HS) put the first shot on goal for the Waves in the 17th minute, sending a hard ball straight at UNC’s Lindsey Harris. Colby Carson (Morgan Hill, Calif./Valley Christian HS) came up with a shot just over a minute later, but Harris came out to knock it away again.
Williams (Fresno, Calif./Bullard HS) and Carson created two more chances just over 30 minutes into the game, as Williams fired a rocket just wide from outside the box and Carson put a ball off the crossbar less than a minute later.
UNC’s first shot came in the 30th minute and the Tar Heels’ first real threat came towards the end of the half, when Pepperdine keeper Hannah Seabert (Riverside, Calif./Woodcrest Christian HS) was forced to come punch a dangerous cross away in the 43rd minute.
The Waves kept the pressure on in the second half, with Bri Visalli (San Jose, Calif./Valley Christian HS) sending a volley wide just two minutes into the period and Williams firing a rocket at the new Tar Heel goalie, Bryane Heaberlin, in the 56th. Williams fired another shot on goal from the left side, just outside the box five minutes later, forcing another save. Her game winning strike would come from nearly the same spot in the 71st minute.
After Jamie Van Horn (Danville, Calif./San Ramon Valley HS) sent a free kick into the box from the Waves’ side of the field, the UNC defender knocked it down, but failed to get a good foot on the clearance attempt. Williams corralled the ball and fired a laser with her left foot that found the upper right corner of the goal. It was her second of the season after putting up a goal and two assists on Friday.
“I went up for a header and when I came down it was right there,” said Williams, who now has 27 career goals, good for fourth in program history. “We had been working on shooting all week, so I just focused on hitting it low and hard and it went in.”
“She had a couple strikes earlier that their keeper was able to make saves on, but when she hit that I knew it was going in,” said Ward of Williams’ goal. “That’s a world class goal from what I think is a world class player.”
The Waves then had to hold on as the Tar Heels made a push late. Seabert was forced to make her only save of the game just after the restart from Williams’ goal, tipping a shot by Joanna Boyles over the crossbar. UNC fired off three shots in the last 10 minutes of play, but none of them were on target as they continued to press until the final horn. Seabert picked off a cross in the 89th minute and sent the ball down the field to seal the win for the Waves.
“We just told each other we couldn’t have any let-downs, and that we were winning this game no matter what,” said Williams of the Pepperdine defensive effort late in the game. “This was a great win. We protect our home field, so to start off 4-0 against great teams like this is what we wanted to do.”
The Waves held a 10-9 shooting advantage in the game, with Williams leading all players with five shots. Boyles led UNC with three shots and the only one on target. Each UNC keeper made a pair of saves in their respective halves of play.
“We have a ton of respect for that program (UNC) and what that staff does year in and year out,” said Ward. “This is a great win and now we have to build on it, because if you don’t it would be like just throwing it out the window.”
UNC falls to 1-2-1 on the year, suffering its only other loss this year to No. 5 Stanford in an overtime game. The road doesn’t get any easier for Pepperdine, as the Waves head to Hawaii for games against Washington State and No. 1 UCLA this weekend.