Jayhawks Fall 2-0 to Georgia in NCAA Soccer Tournament
LAWRENCE, Kan. – A strong defensive showing by Georgia kept the Kansas soccer team off the scoreboard as the Bulldogs topped KU 2-0 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Sunday afternoon. Kansas was shutout for just the third time this season as it ended the 2011 season 11-9-1 overall.
The postseason appearance was the Jayhawks’ fifth time in the NCAA Tournament and first since 2008 as they fell to 4-5 in NCAA action. Georgia improved to 13-6-2 and will advance to face the winner of Duke vs. Radford next weekend in second round play.
“It’s disappointing,” said KU head coach Mark Franics. “I thought in the first half we had the ball down on their end for most of the half, but we didn’t really create that many opportunities from that possession. There weren’t that many chances in the game period. The disappointing thing for us is we just didn’t create that many goal-scoring opportunities and you have to give them (Georgia) credit. It’s disappointing for the kids because I think that was a game we definitely could have won.”
Both teams got off to a slow start in the first half with possessions in front of the goal very limited. The Jayhawks managed just two shots, both on frame, while Georgia came up with four attempts.
After regrouping at the break, KU turned up the pressure in the final 45 minutes out-shooting the Bulldogs 9-7 to even out the offensive output to 11 shots for each team.
The Bulldogs finally broke the stalemate during the 51st minute. Jenna Buckley played a pass into the box from the near sideline that found Ashley Miller. Miller fired from five yards out on a high bouncing ball to record her fifth score of the season and put Georgia up 1-0.
Not long after, Georgia’s top scorer Alexa Newfield expanded her team’s lead. Newfield carried the ball up the field and, after getting around a KU defender, shot and scored from the top of the penalty box for her 16th goal of the year.
Trailing 2-0, Kansas felt a new level of urgency but could not piece together key passes in the final third of the field as Georgia’s back line held strong. Freshman Liana Salazar had one of Kansas’ few good looks in the 59th minute. She received a pass in the box near the left side of the goal but her shot flew wide.
Fellow freshman Ingrid Vidal also had a good look in the final minute of the game. With a lot of traffic in the box, Vidal collected the ball and hit a hard shot from only eight yards out but Georgia keeper Ashley Baker tallied her fourth save of the game to preserve the Bulldogs’ shutout.
Redshirt freshman Kaitlyn Stroud played all 90 minutes in the goal for Kansas recording four saves in the game. Salazar and Vidal were two of four KU players to finish with multiple shots as the pair registered two attempts apiece along with junior Shelby Williamson. Junior Whitney Berry led all players with three shots.
Newfield led the Georgia attack with three attempts. Madeline Barker added two shots, while six additional Bulldogs had one shot each.
Kansas 0, Georgia 2
November 13, 2011
Kansas Head Coach Mark Francis
“It’s disappointing. I thought in the first half we had the ball down on their end for most of the half, but we didn’t really create that many opportunities from that possession. There weren’t that many chances in the game period. I think they maybe had three and of course they scored on two of them. We maybe had two and the goalkeeper made a great save towards the end. The disappointing thing for us is we just didn’t create that many goal-scoring opportunities and you have to give them (Georgia) credit. It’s disappointing for the kids because I think that was a game we definitely could have won.”
On having a young team reach the NCAA Tournament:
“That’s what I told the team at the end. We had six freshmen starting for us the last part of the season. To be able to go to the NCAA Tournament their first year, it gives them that experience. Those kids played a lot of minutes. The difference between your freshman and sophomore year is huge in terms of now you know what to expect because you aren’t really surprised by anything. I think for that group coming back, this was a great experience. I think getting to the tournament and losing in the first round makes you a little hungrier to get back next year and do better. As a player, I think that is what I would be thinking.”
On what Georgia did defensively:
“Their defense is good, but I don’t think we were very efficient with the ball in the final third and I think that made it a little easier on them defensively. That was probably the most disappointing thing. I think it was only the third time we’ve been shutout all year, but it happens.”
On his team’s season:
“I told the team that last season was obviously a very disappointing season for us as a group and I thought the team did a great job of turning it around. We finished last in the Big 12 last year and then tied for sixth and getting to the tournament this year. It’s great for the kids. I think it came down to Whit (Berry) and the other players bringing the mentality that ‘hey, we’re not having another season like that.’ The turnaround from last year to now was huge. This team never quit and I think that was one of the main reasons we did as well as we did this year.”
On keeping that mentality going years down the road:
“It starts with your returning players and obviously we had quite a few from last year to this year. From this year to next year we only lose three seniors out of 23 players, so 20 players got a taste of being here. It’s a different measuring stick now because now you don’t want to just make the tournament, you want to go further. When I look back on this season there were some games we had where we let teams off the hook. The Missouri game springs to mind where we were up 2-0 with six minutes to go and we allowed them to come back and beat us 3-2. The Texas A&M game, we were up 2-0 with 15 minutes to go and it ends up in a tie. Texas, we were up 2-0 and we let them come back, but won in overtime. I think the team has to learn to put other teams away because we were in that situation quite a few times this year. Being a young team they don’t understand smelling the blood in the water, but the mentality of this team is great. I told this group at the end that we expect great things as we head into the spring and begin next year. I really think we can accomplish some things next year that no other Kansas team has ever done.”
Junior forward Whitney Berry
On what Georgia did defensively:
“I think just clearing the ball every time we got down there. I don’t think we were playing the right final ball on scoring opportunities, so we were just giving it away.”
On playing in the NCAA Tournament:
“It was a lot of fun and like Coach said, it will give us that little hunger and edge that we need to come back and compete for more next year. I’m disappointed we didn’t get more into it this year, but I think it’s always about trying to get one step further than the year before. Next year we’ll come back and compete even harder.”
On what comes next:
“I think just keeping things where they are at. Our mentality is the best since I’ve been here. I think if we keep working hard, we’re going to accomplish a lot.”
Georgia Head Coach Steve Holeman
On his team’s victory in the opening round of the NCAA Championship:
“We are absolutely thrilled with the win. It is obviously no easy task coming here to Lawrence and walking away with a 2-0 victory over a very good Kansas team. We are excited that we still get to play and I am just proud of the girls, the way they fought and battled today. I thought our defense was exceptional and it was nice to get two goals there in the run of play, which was something we had not done that well in the last couple of games.”
On the lack of scoring in the first half compared to the second:
“There was a bit of a stalemate. We and Kansas are very similar in that we play the exact same system and try to do the same things. We are both possession teams, so really it was a matter of getting to feel each other out in the first half.”
Georgia sophomore midfielder Alexa Newfield
On her performance in the match and throughout the year:
“I have a lot of teammates to work with and we all feed off each other well as far as assisting and supporting throughout the season. Whether it would be off of crosses from (freshman midfielder/forward) Jenna Owens or (sophomore forward) Carli Shultis, we just have a lot of movement from playing together and they create a lot of chances for me to finish.”