This season, every Pepperdine University player chose a single word as their daily focus.Senior forward Lynn Williams picked “opportunity” as her mantra, which is fitting, because she is certainly making the most of her opportunities so far this year.
Williams garnered West Coast Conference Player of the Week on Monday for contributing two goals and two assists in victories over Florida Atlantic and perennial power North Carolina, including the game-winner against the Tar Heels.
And while Williams’ individual focus is the “opportunity” to get better every day, she is quick to credit her teammates’ “all in” mentality for the squad’s early success. The Waves are off to a 4-0-0 start – one win shy of the program’s best ever – and jumped up to No. 11 in the latest NSCAA Division I Top 25. The only squad in Pepperdine history to open the year 5-0-0 was the 2005 team that advanced to the Sweet 16.
“We want to go farther in the tournament than we’ve ever gone and we all have a drive and passion for that,” Williams said.
Williams attributes head coach Tim Ward’s addition of assistant coach Max Rooke to the coaching staff for the fresh approach to the mental part of the game. Rooke’s knowledge of sports psychology has helped the Waves attack the game with both the body and mind.
“(Rooke) has brought a whole new mentality to the team,” Rooke said. “We focus a lot more on the mind and not always technical ability. Every day is an opportunity to get better and if you don’t do it right in practice, it is not going to translate to the field.”
Pepperdine hits the road for the first time this weekend as it travels to Hawaii’s Outrigger Resorts Soccer Classic to play Washington State on Friday and No. 1 UCLA on Sunday. The Waves have posted three consecutive shutouts entering the weekend.
“I like this mix of new freshmen and the returners,” Williams said. “I think we all realize we are good enough to win a national championship if we put our minds to it. This year, practice is a fight for every single minute you get (to play in the games). That’s really exciting because it is really competitive in practice and I think it translates to the games.”
AROUND THE NATION
Pepperdine may have a tough time keeping up the winning momentum as the Waves face the nation’s stingiest defense, UCLA, on Sunday. The Bruins have yet to allow a goal and have held foes to just one shot on goal, and only six total shots, in four games.
No. 2 Florida State hosts No. 8 Florida in a Sunshine State showdown 7 p.m. Friday. Seminole senior Dagny Brynjarsdottir paces FSU with three goals in four games, including last Sunday’s game-winner over Oklahoma, which made her the program’s all-time leader in game-winning goals. The Seminoles have won three straight against the Gators, including two consecutive shutouts. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN3.
Another instate clash will take place Friday in the Palmetto State when Clemson heads to No. 9 South Carolina in a matchup of two 4-0-0 squads. The Tigers have netted 18 goals in four games, well ahead of last year’s total of three, and have given up just two scores during the stretch. Meanwhile, South Carolina is the only team in the Southeastern Conference yet to surrender a point and has allowed only 11 shots on the year. The Gamecocks are riding a program-best 14-game home winning streak into Friday’s contest.
No. 13 Georgetown University takes the Corboz“sister act” on the road again when the Hoyas head to No. 5 Virginia Tech on Friday. Daphne – a senior – has contributed four goals and five assists on the year, while freshman Rachel notched her first goal and first assist in the Hoyas’ 5-0 win at Towson last Sunday. The Corboz sisters, along with junior Vanessa Skrumbis (6 g, 1 a), have accounted for 29 of Georgetown’s 38 points on the season.
No. 15 Wisconsin is off to the program’s best start since 2004 with a 4-0-0 mark, but the Badgers will hit the road for the first time this weekend for their toughest tests of the year. Wisconsin will take on undefeated Washington on Friday at the Husky Invitational, and then face No. 22 Portland on Sunday at the tournament. The Pilots have started just 1-2-0, but their two losses came at the hands of No. 2 Florida State and No. 4 Stanford.
No. 7 Penn State and No. 18 Arkansas, both unbeaten, head to Tobacco Road this weekend to face No. 14 North Carolina and Duke at the Duke Nike Classic on Friday and Sunday. All four contests will be broadcast on ESPN3.
For the first time since 2006, the Fordham women's soccer team entered the NSCAA Division I Women's Soccer Regional Rankings at No. 9 in the Mid-Atlantic Region. The Rams picked up shutouts over Vermont and Maine last weekend and are riding their first three-game winning streak since September 2012.
At 4-0-0, Kansas is off to the program’s best start since 2009. Junior midfielder Liana Salazer leads the Jayhawks and the Big 12 Conference with five goals and 11 points on the year. She earned Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week honors for contributing three goals and an assist in victories over UTSA and Wake Forest.
Nebraska hosts No. 20 Oklahoma in a meeting of former Big 12 rivals Friday. The Huskers and Sooners are meeting for the 17th time in series history with Nebraska owning a 12-3-1 advantage. Oklahoma won the last meeting in 2012. The Sooners are fresh off an upset of then No. 6 Florida, which earned the program its first national ranking since 2005. Nebraska looks to build momentum following a come-from-behind 3-2 win over Marquette last Sunday.
Amy Farnum Patronis covers Divison I Women's College Soccer for College Soccer News. She can be reached at email@example.com