Pepperdine vs Cal – 4:00 PM
It’s probably been an excruciating wait for Pepperdine supporters, who have had to watch an exciting weekend of soccer before the Waves make their debut proper in 2013 against Cal. It’s a rematch of the two clubs’ NCAA Tournament first round affair last season that saw Cal edge past a shorthanded Pepperdine side that was missing an injured Michelle Pao among others. The Waves will, hopefully, be at full strength for the rematch, meaning Pao will be back to rampage up the right flank in her senior season and will be looking to build on an impressive resume that has her likely rated as one of the top defenders in the forthcoming NWSL Draft class. If eyes aren’t on Pao, they’ll likely be on junior forward Lynn Williams, just as important to Pepperdine’s rise the past two seasons and a budding pro prospect herself. The Waves will be hoping the Fresno native can eclipse double digit goals as a junior and that the newly minted U23 international can help spur the team towards a postseason win after two years of falling at the first hurdle. The big question may be who ends up in goal for Pepperdine after the graduation of reliable South African international Roxanne Barker. Junior Carolyn Dapper has little experience, and head coach Tim Ward could instead roll with either of two freshmen, Sydney Socquet or Hannah Seabert.
Whoever ends up in goal will have to be ready from the off, because Cal has wasted no time in picking up a head of steam in 2013. Against a talented UC Irvine side in a difficult environment, Cal powered through for a 3-1 win that saw them lead after seventeen minutes and never let up before Irvine grabbed a late consolation. Cal didn’t exactly light UCI’s defense up with shots, but they were ruthlessly efficient, putting three of their six shots on goal in the back of the net. Some may feel that the gap between Cal and the Big Two of the Pac-12 may be shrinking ever so slightly, and performances like Friday’s from Cal will do nothing to dispel that notion. A second consecutive win on the road against a quality side would surely have Cal soaring up the rankings (for what its worth at this early stage of the season) and more importantly could have big ramifications for the Golden Bears when seeding is considered in the NCAA Tournament. A win here, and the club will likely be 6-0-0 before traveling to Santa Clara in a showdown that suddenly doesn’t look so daunting for the Pac-12 side after SCU’s opening weekend struggles.