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MALIBU, Calif. - The No. 11 Pepperdine women's soccer team picked up a dramatic shootout-win over USC on Saturday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Pepperdine advances to the second round of the tournament to play Illinois State next Friday.
The Waves and Trojans played through two overtime periods tied at 1-1, before Pepperdine came away victorious, 4-2, in the shootout. Waves' goalkeeper Hannah Seabert stopped the second to last attempt by the Trojans and then junior defender Courtney Assumma buried her attempt to clinch the victory.
"The last couple times we played a playoff game at home we had some tough late losses, so to have this moment with this team was great," said head coach Tim Ward, who has now led the Waves to seven postseason victories during his tenure. "To get a victory in a game like that was a bit of vindication. This really was a tremendous game against an incredibly tough opponent."
USC struck first when Nicole Molen headed in a corner kick from the right side in the 44th minute to put the visiting Trojans ahead going into the break.
The equalizer would come in the 70th minute for Pepperdine. Lynn Williams (Fresno, Calif./Bullard HS) fired a shot from outside the box that forced USC keeper Caroline Stanley to make a diving save and let the rebound come bouncing back toward the middle of the box where a rushing Kristen Rodriguez (Inglewood, Calif./Notre Dame Academy) sent home the shot for the Waves.
Pepperdine had its chances late in the game, but couldn't convert, sending eight total shots towards goal in the two overtime periods. The Waves outshot USC 25-8 in the game, but the Trojans were not without their chances, sending an open shot just over the crossbar in the 88th minute.
The two teams opened the shootout with the keepers blocking the first attempts they saw and then after trading goals on the next four attempts, Williams stepped up and buried hers to make it 3-2. Seabert (Riverside, Calif./Woodcrest Christian HS) then made a diving save on the shot by USC's Katie Johnson to set up Assumma (Temecula, Calif./Temecula Valley HS) for the win.
"I knew it only takes one save sometimes and I just felt good out there," said Seabert, who helps the Waves advance in her first postseason appearance. "After that I saw Courtney walking up there and I had all the confidence in the world that she was going to make it."
Seabert had to make just one save during regulation and overtime before blocking two shots in the shootout. Stanley made seven saves in the game for USC.
"We practiced PK's during the week," said Ward. "We told Hannah that the pressure is on the shooter. It didn't surprise us that she made that save."
The win advances the Waves to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2005 and it was Pepperdine's first ever home postseason win. The draw moves the team's overall record this season to 15-2-4 and USC ends its season at 12-5-3. The Waves will play Illinois State on Friday at 5 p.m. That game will be hosted at UCLA as the Bruins are hosting the next two rounds as the highest remaining seed in this section of the bracket.