BATON ROUGE - Friday's opening match of the 2011 LSU Invitational provided one of the nation's featured matchups of the weekend as No. 13-ranked Pepperdine took down No. 20-ranked Illinois by a 4-2 margin in a Top 20 clash in the first match held at the new LSU Soccer Stadium.
With the win, the Waves (6-0-1) remained unbeaten on the season and improved to 1-0-1 in matches with ranked opponents. Pepperdine played No. 4-ranked UCLA to a 1-1 draw in its last outing on Sept. 2.
The Fighting Illini (5-2) dropped its second decision in three matches after falling to Southern California by a 3-1 margin at home on Sept. 2 and edging Colorado by a narrow 3-2 count on Sunday.
Pepperdine took a 1-0 lead into the halftime break as Myriah Stockman opened her account just over four minutes before the horn as she controlled a loose ball in the right side of the penalty area and lofted a chip shot from 12 yards over the head of Illinois goalkeeper Steph Panozzo and inside the left post.
The Waves wasted little time in pushing their lead to 2-0 early in the second half when Michelle Manning received a pass in the box from Lynn Williams and scored her second goal of the season with a shot taken from just beyond the six-yard box directly in front of the net. Manning gave Pepperdine a short-lived lead of two goals at the 48:11 mark of the second half.
Megan Pawloski pulled one back for Illinois in the 56th minute with her shot from 10 yards out in the right side of the area after controlling a pass from Shayla Mutz.
Pepperdine regained its two-goal lead nearing the hour mark as sensational striker Anisa Guajardo put her shot on target following Williams' flick into the box while scoring her fifth goal of the season. Laura Cole then became the fourth Wave of the match to enter the scoresheet with her second goal of the campaign at the 74:04 mark after firing a strike into the back of the net with the assist from Ally Holtz.
Although Jannelle Flaws pulled one back for the Fighting Illini in the 84th minute, it proved to be too little too late for her side as Pepperdine pulled out a deserved 4-2 victory. It was a match in which Pepperdine held a 19-14 advantage in total shots with an 8-6 edge in shots on goal in 90 minutes of action.
2011 LSU Invitational
Game 1: Illinois vs. Pepperdine
September 9, 2011
Pepperdine Head Coach Tim Ward
On Pepperdine's win against No. 20 Illinois ...
"That is a really good Illinois team. I was so impressed with the job Janet (Rayfield) and her staff did organizing. They play really nice soccer. We try to play really nice soccer. I thought it was a really entertaining game. In the first half, we look at it like this is a very good team we are playing against, a very sophisticated team. We were fortunate to get a goal early. Our keeper makes an extraordinary save to preserve it 1-0 going into the second half. I think we made some good adjustments at halftime. Just reminded our girls of what it is all about. It is not just about scoring goals. I think the second goal calmed the nerves and now it is an uphill battle for the other team to climb. The whole time, to be honest, I thought, 'That team is capable of scoring.' It was like a Wild West shoot out. We are really blessed and fortunate to win that game.
Pepperdine Midfielder Laura Cole
On Pepperdine's offensive performance in Game 1 ...
"We were just all working hard up there and we were connecting well and making runs for each other. I think ultimately that is what got us all of the goals. Everyone was willing to work and get in for each other."