Jayhawks to host Saint Louis in first round of NCAA Soccer Tournament
LAWRENCE, Kan. – For the eighth time in program history, the University of Kansas soccer team earned a bid to the NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Championship it was announced Monday afternoon. The Jayhawks will host the Saint Louis Billikens in first round play on Friday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m., at Rock Chalk Park. The match will be broadcast live on ESPN3.
“I was on the regional committee and based on where we finished in the region, I didn’t think there would be much doubt we’d be in (the NCAA Tournament), it’s just that you don’t know where you’re going or who you’re playing,” said head coach Mark Francis. “Obviously, we prepared this (past) week like we were going to be playing. Now it’s just nice to know who our opponent is and what’s in front of us. Not having to be on the road this week is huge for us; it allows us to train and not worry about traveling.”
“The game earlier this year (against Saint Louis), was interesting,” Francis said. “We went down 2-0 in the first 15 minutes into the game and we ended up coming back. Actually, (Grace Hagan) scored a hat trick, so we won, 3-2. But (they) are a very good team. I think since we beat them, they haven’t lost.”
Kansas is making its third appearance in the tournament in the last five seasons and its eighth overall in the 24-year history of the program. The Jayhawks (11-5-3) have been among the nation’s top squads from beginning-to-end this season, moving as high as No. 13 and never falling lower than No. 30 in the RPI, which ranks all 335 NCAA DI teams. The Jayhawks finished sixth in the regular-season Big 12 standings with a 5-4-0 record and are coming off a draw with No. 17 Texas in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Championship, were KU was eventually eliminated in a penalty kick shootout.
2018 JAYHAWKS AT A GLANCE
- Kansas played seven matches against teams included in this season’s NCAA Tournament field, recording a 3-4 record in those matches.
- Kansas finished the 2018 regular season with 11 wins, which marked the 14th time under 20-year head coach Mark Francis the Jayhawks have notched double-digit victories.
- KU finished sixth in the Big 12 standings, marking the seventh time in the last eight seasons the Jayhawks have finished sixth or higher on the league table. The Jayhawks’ five league wins tied for their most since the conference added West Virginia and TCU in 2013.
- The Jayhawks have been among the top-30 of the NCAA RPI in every week of the rankings have been released this season, moving as high as No. 13. Kansas is 3-4-2 against teams inside the RPI top-50 and is 8-1-1 against teams outside the top-50. KU is also a member of the RPI’s second-highest rated league, the Big 12 Conference, which features five of its 10 members ranked inside the RPI’s top-25.
- KU was led in goals this season by junior forward Katie McClure, who netted eight goals, a career high. Six of those eight strikes, were game-winning goals, a figure that leads the Big 12 and ranks No. 4 in the NCAA.
- Senior forward Grace Hagan is close behind McClure with seven goals on the season and leads the team with 60 shots, a career high. Hagan’s 25 career goals and 15 career assists make her just the second Jayhawk in program history to post 25 goals and 15 assists in a career.
- Kansas has played in a program-record eight overtime matches this season, amassing a record of 4-1-3 in those instances. The Jayhawks’ four overtime wins are also the most posted be a KU squad in program history.
- The Jayhawks saw three players honored on the All-Big 12 teams. Senior forward Grace Hagan claimed a spot on the First Team for the second time in her career, while McClure was a second team honoree. Freshman goalkeeper Sarah Peters was selected to the league’s All-Freshman team, marking the eighth-straight season a Jayhawk has claimed a spot on the All-Freshman squad.
- The KU defense has been stout this past year. The KU backline has allowed one opponent goal or fewer in 13 of its last 19 outings, which includes nine shutouts, the programs most in a season since 2004. The Jayhawks have tallied four opponent scoreless stretches of 200 minutes or more this season, including their active streak that currently stands at 216 minutes since they last conceded a goal.
ABOUT SAINT LOUIS
The Billikens enter the NCAA Tournament with an overall record of 18-3-1. Saint Louis finished first in the Atlantic 10 Conference with an undefeated 10-0 record. The Billikens also claimed the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament title on Sunday, Nov. 4, by defeating VCU, 4-1.
Saint Louis went on a 14-match winning streak to close out the 2018 regular season, with its last defeat coming against its NCAA Tournament first-round opponent, Kansas, on Sept. 14 at Rock Chalk Park by a score of 3-2.
Saint Louis is led on the offensive side by senior forward Maddie Pokorny and freshman midfielder Hannah Friedrich. Friedrich leads the squad with eight assists on the year and Pokorny is the top goal-scorer on the team with 12 netted this season. The Billikens defense has allowed 12 goals in 22 games this year. Junior goalkeeper Olivia Silverman played in all 22 of those matches between the posts for Saint Louis picking up 11 shutouts, collecting 44 saves and amassing a 0.52 goals-against average.
The Division I Women’s Soccer Committee selected the 64-team field from 330 NCAA Division I institutions that sponsor women’s soccer. Kansas was one of 33 teams to receive an at-large bid. The other 31 teams were automatic qualifiers. Six of 10 Big 12 teams earned bids: West Virginia, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor and Kansas.
First round competition of the NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Championship will be held at 32 campus sites Nov. 9-11, including Lawrence. Winners advance to second round to be held on Friday, Nov. 16.
SECOND AND THIRD ROUND
Second round and third competition of the NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Championship will be held at 16 campus sites Nov. 16-18 at non-predetermined campus sites. Winners of the second-round games advance to the third round to be held two days later on Sunday, Nov. 18. Winners of the third-round matches will then advance to one of four quarterfinal games.
Regionals for the NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Championship will be held Nov. 23-24 at four non-predetermined campus sites. Each quarterfinal winner will advance to semifinal action of the 2018 NCAA Division I Women’s College Cup in Cary, North Carolina to begin on Nov. 30.
The 2018 NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer College will be held at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina, for the eighth time. Quarterfinal winners will compete in semifinal matches held Nov. 30 at 4 or 6:30 p.m. (CT). The national championship match of the NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer College Cup will be played at 12 p.m. (CT), Dec. 2.
KANSAS IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
The Jayhawks are making their eighth all-time NCAA Tournament appearance, all under 20-year head coach Mark Francis. Kansas is 5-7 all-time in the postseason and is making its first appearance since earning a bid in 2016.
2001 (0-1): In its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance Kansas fell to the BYU Cougars, 1-0, at Abbot Sports Complex in Lincoln, Nebraska. BYU scored the eventual game-winner in the 76th minute.
2003 (2-1): Kansas advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history and picked up a memorable win over rival Missouri in the process. Kansas dispatched of Illinois State, 3-1, in the first-round match held in Columbia, Missouri, before topping the Tigers two days later, 2-0. Kansas scored twice in the final 13 minutes to advance to play top-seeded UCLA in the Sweet 16. The Bruins topped the Jayhawks in a tightly-contested match by a score of 1-0 on a goal in the 43rd minute.
2004 (1-1): In the first-round match Kansas defeated Creighton, 3-1, in the first NCAA Tournament game ever hosted by the Jayhawks. The Bluejays scored the game’s first goal in the eighth minute but Kansas went on to score three unanswered goals to advance to the second round for the second-straight season. Former Big 12 foe Nebraska then invaded Lawrence and ended Kansas’ season with a 2-1 overtime victory.
2008 (1-1): The Jayhawks made their first NCAA Tournament field in four seasons when they went up against Denver in the first round match held in Palo Alto, California. Kansas defeated the Pioneers, 2-1, with the help of two first-half goals. The Jayhawks were topped by the top-seeded team in the tournament, Stanford, by a final score of 5-0.
2011: (0-1): Kansas welcomed Georgia to Lawrence for the first-round match in 2011. The Bulldogs scored twice within the first 13 minutes of the second half to defeat Kansas, 2-0.
2014: (0-1): The Jayhawks reignited the Border Showdown with former Big 12 foe Missouri when KU welcomed the Tigers to Rock Chalk Park for the first-round match in 2014. Missouri’s Taylor Grant scored twice and added an assist as the Tigers topped the Jayhawks, 3-1, on a cold afternoon in Lawrence.
2016: (1-1): Kansas got revenge from the first round loss to Missouri two years prior when the Border rivals were paired in the 2016 tournament’s first round, once again hosted at Rock Chalk Park. Kansas’ Lois Heuchan netted the golden goal 40 seconds into the second overtime to lift her team to its first second round appearance since 2008. In the second round, KU met up with eventual College Cup participant North Carolina in Chapel Hill, falling to the Tar Heels, 2-0.
The winner of the Kansas-Saint Louis contest will play the winner of the Howard-North Carolina match on Friday, Nov. 16 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The match will be hosted by the highest-seeded advancing team among the four schools. If the Jayhawks win each of their first two matches, they will then play in the third-round game on Sunday, Nov. 18.
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