Second Half Surge Lifts No. 23 Kansas past Rhode Island, 3-1

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Senior Monica Dolinsky and sophomore Emily Cressy both recorded a goal and an assist, while senior Julie Hanley made a pair of second-half saves as 23rd-ranked Kansas stormed past Rhode Island, 3-1, in a non-conference soccer match Sunday at the Jayhawk Soccer Complex.

The Jayhawks maintain their perfect record, moving to 5-0, while the Rams fall to 0-4. This marks the second-straight year that Kansas has won five-straight matches to open the season, and the third time in team history.

After a sluggish first half, the Jayhawks came out firing in the second and dominated much of the final 45 minutes.

With the score knotted at one in the 58th minute, Dolinsky put home the game-winning goal with a blast from eight yards out. Following a Kansas free kick from the 30, the senior midfielder grabbed the ball after a Rhode Island defender had gotten the first touch, and unleashed a shot into the near side of the net for her second goal of the season. It was also Dolinsky’s first game-winning goal this year.

The Kansas defense took over from there, holding Rhode Island to just three shot attempts in the second half. Kansas senior goalkeeper Julie Hanley, seeing her first action of the year, made a pair of saves to earn the win in relief of freshman Kat Liebetrau.

In the 88th minute, KU put the match away as Cressy finished a through-ball by Jordyn Perdue on the left side of the box for her team-leading third goal of the season.

The Jayhawks got on the scoreboard in the first half, as freshman Shelby Williamson tapped in a cross from Cressy deep in the box following a short corner kick by Dolinsky. It was the freshman’s first career goal.

However, URI quickly equalized the initial Kansas goal with one of their own in the 44th minute. Following a hand ball just outside the box, Amanda Thomas got her head on the Kaylen Shimoda free kick and directed it past Liebetrau to tie the score at 1-1. It marked the first time KU has allowed a goal in the first half all season.

Kansas outshot the Rams, 18-8 in the match, and committed three fewer fouls. Cressy led the offensive charge with a season-high seven shots, including four on net. However, sometimes KU was a bit too aggressive, garnering a team-record eight offsides whistles.

KU is 5-0 for the third time in team history. The other two years that the Jayhawks won their first five matches (2004 and 2008) the team qualified for the NCAA Tournament.

The Jayhawks will travel to Colorado Springs next Friday to battle Denver as part of the Colorado College Invitational. KU knocked off the Pioneers, 2-1 in the first round of last year’s NCAA Tournament. Kickoff Friday is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. CDT.

Postgame Quotes
No. 23 Kansas 3, Rhode Island 1
Sept. 6, 2009 – Lawrence, Kan.

Kansas Head Coach Mark Francis
On the win over Rhode Island:
“I don’t think it was the best game we’ve played. In the first half, we didn’t look very sharp. Not like we did on Friday. I think a lot of the decisions we made (in the first half) were just tired decisions. It was probably my fault, we probably should have made changes earlier. I felt like when we made some changes in the second half, some of the guys who came off the bench did very well, and we did a better job of keeping the ball. We learned that today. Overall, we’re happy with the win. As one of the players said after the game, we found a way to win today.”

On the high number of offsides:
“It’s a little frustrating, because we saw on film that they like to do that. We went over that in practice, and I didn’t think we were very smart about that today. (The officials) were calling that pretty tight today. When that happens, you have to be smart enough to realize that you can’t just be level (with the backline), you have to behind them. I think it took away a lot of our opportunities after good build up.”

On being 5-0:
“It’s nice to be 5-0, but to be honest, we’re not getting too fat and happy about it. We’ve played some good competition, but we’ve got some really good competition coming up, so right now we’re just focusing on Denver. It’s nice to be 5-0, but to me the biggest thing is that we’re finding ways to win these games. The most important thing to me is the progress that we’re making.”