No. 7 Jayhawk Soccer Clinches Big 12 Championship
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Junior Caroline Smith scored twice and added an assist as the University of Kansas soccer team clinched its first ever Big 12 Championship by defeating Iowa State, 4-0, on Friday at the Jayhawk Soccer Complex. The league title is only the second ever by a women’s program at Kansas, as the KU women’s basketball team won the Big 12 crown in 1997.
The No. 7 Jayhawks and Texas A&M each finished the regular season with 8-2 conference mark and were named co-champions of the league, while Kansas will be the No. 1 seed at next week’s Big 12 Soccer Tournament, virtue of a 1-0 victory over the Aggies in College Station, Texas, on Oct. 22.
The Jayhawks (16-3-0; 8-2 Big 12) jumped out to a fast start in the match, drawing first blood on a goal by senior Rachel Gilfillan in the game’s 10th minute. On the play, sophomore defender Holly Gault drove down the right side of the field and slipped a pass over to Gilfillan, who fired a low shot past Cyclone goalkeeper Jo Haig for her eighth goal of the season and a 1-0 KU lead. The goal proved to be Gilfillan’s team-leading fifth game-winning tally of the season.
Smith added to the Jayhawk lead in the 22nd minute, as she took a pass from senior Gabriela Quiggle and slipped the ball past Haig for her eight goal of the season.
Less than two minutes into the second half, Smith struck again, taking a pass from senior Stacy Leeper and turning to fire a shot from 25 yards that found the back of the net. The goal was the team-leading ninth of the season for Smith, who tied a season-high with five points on the day.
Senior Monica Brothers put the finishing touches on the win by converting on a header off a pass from Smith at the 53:37 mark to give the Jayhawks the final 4-0 advantage.
Senior goalkeeper Meghan Miller combined with freshman Colleen Quinn to post the team’s 13th shutout of the season. Miller made one save in the match and lowered her conference-leading goals against average to 0.32.
Iowa State drops to 7-11-0 overall and 4-6 in the conference following the loss. For the match, KU outshot the Cyclones 17-6, including a 11-3 advantage in the first period.
Prior to the game, Kansas soccer honored its seven seniors — Gilfillan, Quiggle, Leeper, Brothers, Miller, Amy Geha and Lauren Williams, who were playing for their last time at the Jayhawk Soccer Complex. The class has been the most successful to go through the Kansas soccer program and rounded out their careers by bringing the school its first ever women’s soccer Big 12 Championship.
“It is very exciting, I’m very glad that the seniors were able to go out like this,” said head coach Mark Francis. “This has been a lot of work and we have come a long way over the years. The seniors are a significant reason why we were able to win the Big 12. We still have a lot of soccer yet to play, but this is great for the entire school and the the athletics department to win a conference championship.”
Next week, Jayhawk soccer participates in the Big 12 Soccer Tournament, which will be held at Blossom Stadium in San Antonio, Texas. Kansas will face off against No. 8 seed Iowa State on Wednesday at 11 a.m.