They left Fresno and Clovis to expand their soccer horizons and return Sunday as the leading scorers on the eighth-ranked women's college team in the nation.
Strikers Lynn Williams and Anisa Guajardo obviously found what they were searching for on the idyllic campus of Pepperdine, overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Malibu.
The Waves bring an 8-0-3 record to Bulldog Stadium for the 1 p.m. match against Fresno State. It's the program's highest ranking since No. 5 in 2003.
"We're very humble about our ranking," Waves 14-year coach Tim Ward said. "We have a team capable of beating anyone in the country. But we also understand that if we don't show up, we'll get beat."
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Not if Williams and Guajardo can help it.
Williams, a freshman from Bullard High, has four goals and six assists. Guajardo, a junior out of Buchanan, has seven goals and one assist.
Pepperdine has beaten the likes of Cal, Arizona, Michigan and Illinois and tied No. 3 UCLA.
Williams and Guajardo played together two years on the Fresno Fusion traveling team, are former Bee Girls Soccer Players of the Year and excited for the chance to play in front of family, friends, and former coaches and teammates.
"It's like a homecoming," Williams said. "Playing in front of my parents will be special. They're the ones who kept telling me I could do bigger things."
Once that sank in, Williams realized she had to pass up Fresno State.
"I knew from a young age I didn't want to go to Fresno State," she said. "I wanted to explore my options."
Guajardo was of a similar mind: "I just wanted to get out of the Valley. When Lynn decided to come here, I was so thrilled. She's fit in great."
The Waves dialed in to Guajardo when they saw a résumé that included a stint with the Mexican under-17 national team.
"We love blue-collar talent," Ward said. "She turned a corner last year. This year, she understands better who she is as a striker."
It was Guajardo who turned Ward's staff on to Williams. The first time he watched her move deftly with the ball at her feet, he saw something special.
"I looked at my assistant and said, 'If we don't recruit this kid, we're idiots.' "
Williams went on to score 50 goals for Bullard last season and lead the Knights to the Central Section Division I championship and to the CIF Southern California Regional final.
"Lynn is probably one of the best athletes we've ever recruited," Ward said. "She changes the game by her very presence. Her speed and natural instincts are excellent.
"She has the ability to someday make the U.S. national team."
Williams was set back by a series of foot injuries her first three seasons at Bullard and rarely played. Once she recovered, there was no holding her back.
"Being healthy is the key to my success," she said."
Williams slaved over the summer to get in better shape. She worked out at 6 a.m. almost daily, hiked in Yosemite, and learned a more physical style on an under-23 team.
"I actually thought I'd die when I got to school," Williams said. " So I killed myself in the summer so I don't have to die now."
Williams' decision to leave Fresno surprised some people and disappointed others who wanted her to wear Bulldogs colors. Because of that, she's determined to give them a show.
"I want to prove to people," she said, "that I made the right choice."