KU Soccer Wraps Up Euro Play with 3-1 Win in Italy
Kansas 3, Real Meda Italia 1
COMO, Italy – Two first half goals from junior forward Ali Kimura helped the Kansas Jayhawks emerge with a 3-1 victory over Real Meda Italia Friday night in Como. The win gave the Jayhawks a perfect 4-0 record for their European Tour and moves them to 4-1 in their spring exhibition season.
“I thought we came out a little flat today,” said head coach Mark Francis. “It was nice that we won but I was a little concerned with our drop from the level we played at on Wednesday. The Europe trip itself has been great though. We got to play some different competition and I think that will really pay off down the road.”
Kansas, who was playing its fourth and final international match this week, hit the pitch against one of Italy’s top women’s club teams in the northern city of Como. Earlier this week the Jayhawks notched wins over SpVgg Kaufbeuren in Germany, 8-1 on Monday night, a 1-0 victory over FC Wacker Innsbruck Tuesday evening in Austria and another 1-0 win over the U23 Swiss National Team in Zurich Wednesday.
Friday the Jayhawks bussed south into Italy, looking to complete a perfect four-match sweep in Euro play Unlike its previous two matches, which saw game-winning goals in the final minutes, Kansas netted all of its goals in the opening 33 minutes, posting a nearly insurmountable lead for the Italians to overcome.
Kimura came off the bench in the 20th minute and made her presence known almost immediately. The walk-on out of Overland Park, Kan., found herself on a breakaway in the 24th minute with only the Italian keeper to beat. She put in a right-footed strike that glanced off the right post and in to give KU a 1-0 lead.
Five minutes later the Italians knotted up the score after a breakaway of their own resulted in a shot KU goalkeeper Kaitlyn Stroud was unable to save.
The tie didn’t last long though as Kimura came up with another score, this time with the help of senior Nicole Chrisopulos. Just a minute after the Italian’s game-tying goal, Chrisopulous came up with the ball just out the right side of the Real Meda box. She put a cross in which then found Kimura just feet from the opposing goal, which she was then able to flick in and give KU a lead it would not relinquish.
Sophomore Kelsey Lyden also entered the game midway through the first half and was able to add another score to pad KU’s lead. In the 33rd minute the Wichita product shook her defender loose and began a breakaway down the right side of the attacking third. She snuck the ball just inside the right post and put her team up 3-1 with over ten minutes still to go in the first half.
The KU defense again held firm in the second frame, allowing only four Italian shots and none on goal. In their four games of Euro play, the Jayhawks allowed only two goals and outscored their international opponents 13-2.
The Jayhawks finished out their final European match with a 3-1 win, outshooting the Italians 16-8, including a 4-2 advantage in shots on goal. Kimura led KU’s offensive attack with four shots, while Lyden and junior Caroline Kastor were next with three apiece.
Kansas will spend one final day sightseeing in Milan and Como Saturday before travelling back to Lawrence Sunday. The Jayhawks will continue their spring exhibition play on Saturday, March 30 when they go up against FC Kansas City of the National Women’s Soccer League. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in Overland Park, Kan., inside Shawnee Mission North Stadium. Follow the match as well as the rest of KU’s spring season by logging on to KUAthletics.com and following on twitter at KU_Soccer.
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