Soccer Holds off No. 14 Northwestern for 2-1 Victory

EVANSTON, Ill. – Friday night under the lights of the picturesque Lakeside Field in Evanston, Ill., Kaitlyn Cunningham squared up on a right-side cross from Kortney Clifton and launched it into the back of the net to give Kansas its second goal of the night. Playing in front of a hometown Chicago-area crowd, the Geneva native’s goal proved to be decisive for the Jayhawks, as KU went on to defeat No. 14 Northwestern 2-1.

Caroline Kastor struck first for the Jayhawks (2-1) in the 45th minute but Cunningham’s blast in the 83rd minute gave KU a much-needed insurance goal, as just a little over a minute later, Northwestern’s Emily Langston scored, cutting KU’s lead in half.

The Wildcats (2-2-1) rallied after going down by two, getting off three more shots in the final 10 minutes of the game. But goalkeeper Kat Liebetrau allowed only Langston’s goal, helping the Jayhawks seal the win.

Both teams kept the crowd on edge, saving the offensive surge for the end of the match. Just four shots were taken between the two teams in the scoreless first half. With strong winds blowing toward the Kansas side of the field, Northwestern was able to gain an offensive edge, but only a slight one, and the Wildcats failed to capitalize on any first-half scoring opportunities.

The Wildcats maintained possession early in the second half but was still unable to get anything past Liebetrau. Kastor changed the game in the 66th minute when she connected on a high ball from Caitlin Noble. With the ball coming in from the right side, Kastor barely beat the keeper to the left and dribbled the ball in to put KU up 1-0.

Cunningham’s goal was her first this season while Kastor scored the second of her career. Liebetrau moved to 2-1 on the season while collecting five saves.

Kastor, Whitney Berry, Emily Cressy and Cunningham all took two shots each, balancing out the offense. Five of KU’s nine shots were on-goal. Northwestern’s Kate Allen led all players with four shots.

The Jayhawks will close out their two-match Chicago-area road trip Sunday, against Illinois State and former Jayhawk Julie Hanley, who is currently a graduate assistant coach for the Redbirds. The teams will square off at Adelaide Street Field in Normal, Ill., at 1 p.m.