Kansas soccer 2016 in review
Notes Season Wrap-Up
LAWRENCE, Kan. – A second-place league finish, an all-conference season for a sophomore forward and five of her teammates, a stellar freshman class and a thrilling double-overtime win over an old rival were just a few of the many bright spots in what was Kansas Soccer’s 2016 campaign. The Jayhawks were forced to navigate one of the NCAA’s most difficult schedules and came out the other side with double-digit wins, the No. 2 spot in the nation’s top conference and its seventh appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Twenty-sixteen will go down as one of the best in the 22-year history of the program and could prove to be a jumping off point that propels Kansas into the ranks of the nation’s elite.
ABOUT THE JAYHAWKS
The Jayhawks ended the season with an 11-6-4 record, marking the fifth-time in the last six years KU posted double-digit wins. Kansas saw six of its matches go to extra time, which tied a program record, while its four draws were also the most in Jayhawk history. Kansas lost four matches in the regular season, each of which came to teams that finished inside the top-25 of the final RPI ranks.
The Jayhawk offense had a roller coaster season. KU was shutout on just five occasions, but scored more than one goal in just seven matches. Kansas netted 25 goals on the year, the third-fewest among Big 12 squads, but the Jayhawks averaged 15.7 shots per game, which ranked among the top-50 in the NCAA and third in the conference. Sophomore Grace Hagan led the squad with her seven goals, which helped earn her All-Big 12 First Team accolades.
The Kansas defense continued its stay as one of the best in the nation, conceding only 19 opponent goals and one or fewer in 17 of its 21 outings. KU boasted a goals-against average of 0.85, which ranks as the fourth-lowest in school history. Junior Maddie Dobyns got the majority of the starts between the posts and amassed the goals-against average of 0.81 in her 17 outings, the fourth-best single-season mark ever by a KU keeper. Jayhawk opponents also managed to put just 36 percent of their shots on target, the second-lowest shot on goal percentage ever allowed by the Kansas back line.
KANSAS FINISHES IN TOP-25 OF RPI
With the release of the season’s final Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) report by the NCAA this week, the 2016 Jayhawks tallied another notable achievement not done in over a decade. Kansas was ranked at No. 25, its highest final ranking since sitting 11th in the final RPI in 2004.
One area that helped Kansas in its climb up the national charts is its strength of schedule. The Jayhawks held the nation’s 22nd-toughest schedule, according to the RPI. Eight future KU opponents found themselves in the top-30 of the final index, while a total of 13 sit in the top-50.
This report also ranked the Big 12 as one of the nation’s toughest conferences. The league, which sits at No. 2 in the conference RPI standings, boasts all nine teams inside the top-82.
JAYHAWKS SMASH ATTENDANCE RECORD
The 2016 season featured a record-setting mark not on the field, but in the stands. Nearly 20,000 people watched the Jayhawk contests (19,323 to be exact) in 2016, almost 3,000 more than any season before it. The 920 per match average topped the 2007 mark which saw an average 792 people take in Kansas soccer.
The program’s record home attendance mark also fell in the Jayhawks’ second full season at Rock Chalk Park. A year after Kansas welcomed a record average of 802 fans per match, 2016 saw 9,850 people come through the gates at KU’s home facility, an average of 1,046 per game. The mark ranked 25th in the NCAA and third in the Big 12 this season. Kansas featured five home matches that saw 1,100 fans or more, including the Jayhawks’ Sept. 23 match against Texas Tech, which featured the program’s single-game record of 1,617.
Since its first match at Rock Chalk Park in 2014, KU has seen an average home attendance of 937 in 23 contests.
SO LONG, SENIORS
The end of the 2016 season marks the end of the careers of seven Jayhawks, each of whom played vital roles in the program over the last four (and in some cases five) seasons. KU seniors Tayler Estrada, Aurélie Gagnet, Jackie Georgoulis, Hanna Kallmaier, Ashley Pankey, Kaley Smith and Morgan Williams were a part of 53 KU victories since Kallmaier and Smith’s freshman seasons in 2012. They helped their team to a pair of top-three Big 12 finishes, its fifth-straight Big 12 tournament berth and two NCAA Tournament appearances. Combined, these seven accumulated 355 starts and played over 33,000 minutes in the Crimson and Blue. This senior class also combined for 11 goals, 23 assists and 311 shots.
From 2013-16, this Jayhawk senior class amassed a record of 43-32-8. This makes it the seventh class in program history to have achieved 43 or more wins in a four-year period.
FRANCIS EYING WIN NO. 200 AT KANSAS
Head coach Mark Francis will head into the 2017 season just one win shy of 200 for his Kansas coaching career. He has amassed a record of 199-145-27 over his 18-year stint at Kansas. The veteran coach has averaged just over 11 wins per season during that span. He is currently second among the active Big 12 coaches in victories behind West Virginia’s Nikki Izzo-Brown.
HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE
Now with over two years as tenants of Rock Chalk Park, Kansas has built a reputation as a tough team to beat on its home pitch, especially over its last 11 outings. Kansas posted a mark of 6-2-1 at Rock Chalk Park this season, outscored its opponents by a mark of 10-6, outshot its opponents by an average of 18-11 and amassed a goals against average of 0.64.
Since the middle of the 2015 campaign the Jayhawks are 7-2-2 in Lawrence for a .727 winning percentage. Kansas’ only two losses in that span came to Minnesota (Aug. 19, 2016) and West Virginia (Oct. 7, 2016), both of those teams finished among the top-20 in this year’s final RPI.
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE
The 2016 Jayhawks were forced to navigate one of the toughest schedules in program history, playing 14 of their matches against teams selected to the NCAA Tournament. Kansas’ strength of schedule ranked 22nd in the nation with six of the Jayhawks’ opponents finishing the year among the top-25 of the RPI rankings. The 2016 College Cup included three of those six opponents: West Virginia, North Carolina and eventual NCAA Champion Southern California.
In the 16 years since the NCAA released its strength of schedule figures, Kansas’ No. 22 rating sits as the second-toughest in program history, behind only the 2008 team that finished the year with the nation’s 16th-ranked schedule. Both teams posted double-digit wins in those seasons and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Kansas soccer team saw its most representatives on the postseason all-conference teams in a decade when the Big 12 announced the awards Oct. 31. Six Jayhawks were honored with sophomore forward Grace Hagan heading up the group with her first team selection. KU boasted a trio on the second team as well as a pair on the All-Freshman squad.
Hagan claimed All-Big 12 First Team honors for the first time in her young KU career, marking the sixth-consecutive season Kansas had at least one Jayhawk on the first team. Senior midfielders Tayler Estrada and Hanna Kallmaier, as well as junior defender Kayla Morrison, earned spots on the second team, all for the first time. Jayhawk freshmen Katie McClure and Addisyn Merrick rounded out the KU honorees with their selection on the All-Freshman squad. McClure was a unanimous choice by the league’s coaches.
The announcement means Kansas has had at least one Jayhawk on the All-Big 12 teams each year since the current format began in 2000. The six Jayhawks selected also marked the fifth-straight season three or more KU representatives were picked to the all-conference squads. Selections for the All-Big 12 teams were voted on by the league’s coaches, who were not allowed to vote for their own players.
Forward Grace Hagan put together an impressive sophomore campaign. She led the Jayhawks with seven goals and 18 points, figures that ranked the Wichita product among the top-five in the Big 12 in their respective categories. It was evident that when Hagan went, so went the Jayhawks. Kansas was 4-1-3 this season when Hagan scored or assisted and 4-1-2 when Hagan tallied three shots or more. KU opponents may have picked up on this trend as in the 13 instances when Hagan was held to two shots or fewer, the Jayhawks were winners in seven of those contests.
Hagan’s season was one of the best by a sophomore in program history. She was only one goal shy of entering the top-three scoring sophomores ever to don the Crimson and Blue. Her year also marked the most goals scored by a Jayhawk sophomore since Emily Cressy shot in 12 during the 2009 campaign.
With any veteran-laden team, there are bound to be some impressive career streaks established and the 2016 Jayhawks were no different. One streak that showed the continuity and consistency of this KU crew is the amount of consecutive games started. Nine Jayhawks boasted active or career-long stretches of 25-straight matches started or longer. This includes junior Kayla Morrison, whose streak sits at 63-straight starts for Kansas.
Morrison’s mark is already among the longest in program history as it sits fifth on the all-time list among field players. If the Corona, California product is 20 games back of the school’s all-time record heading into her last season in 2017.
Two field players hold the ultimate title of “Iron Jayhawk” as they started each of KU’s matches over a four-year span. Estelle Johnson (2006-09) and Afton Sauer (2004-07) were in the starting 11 in all 83 games of their careers.
MORE ON KANSAS’ WIN OVER MISSOURI
The Jayhawks’ win over Missouri in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Nov. 13 was one of the biggest wins the program has seen in some time. Here are more notes on the double-overtime thriller in Rock Chalk Park:
- The contest was the second in KU’s NCAA Tournament history that went to extra time as well as its first overtime victory in tournament play.
- The Kansas-Missouri match was one of three first-round games that were decided in overtime and the only one that was decided in double OT.
- The Jayhawks handed the Tiger offense, which averaged nearly two goals a game in 2016, its sixth shutout of the year.
- Kansas hosted its fifth NCAA Tournament game in Lawrence. The Jayhawks are now 2-3-0 in those five matches.
- The double overtime win was the Jayhawks’ fourth victory in a match that went to two OTs over the last four years. KU is 5-2-9 in matches that went to double OT over the last five seasons. This was the sixth match this year to be decided in double OT or later.
SPREADING THE WEALTH
The Kansas offense proved to be a tough assignment for opposing defenses this year after a host of Jayhawks made their presence known on the stat sheet. Twelve different Jayhawks had their hand in at least one of the team’s goals in 2016, either scoring or assisting. A total of 12 players managed to tally 10 or more shots and, while sophomore Grace Hagan and freshman Katie McClure notched nearly a third of the team’s total shots (101), eight of their teammates added 15 or more attempts to the team’s total of 329.
This is a trend is an improvement from 2015’s squad which was also an unselfish bunch, as 11 different players managed to post double-figure shots and 10 Jayhawks tallied at least one goal or assist in 2015.
LET’S GET DEFENSIVE
With a veteran crew comprising the KU back line this season, the Jayhawks once again proved to be a stout defensive team. Kansas boasted a goals-against average of 0.85, which included six shutouts. The Jayhawks allowed just 12 opponent shots per match, which included eight games when KU opponents sent in 10 or fewer attempts. Over their last 63 matches (dating back to the start of the 2014 season), the Jayhawks shutout 20 opponents and boasted a goals-against average of 0.93. Kansas conceded 61 opponent goals in that span and allowed one opponent goal or less in 21 of its last 25 matches.
KU turned in an impressive shutout streak in 2016. KU went 282-straight minutes without conceding a goal from Aug. 19-28. The figure was the 18th-longest in school history and marked the sixth time over the last five seasons the Jayhawks have tallied an opponent scoreless streak of 280 minutes or longer.
JUST ONE WILL DO IT
The Jayhawks continued to carry on an impressive trend that has developed over the last three seasons when it comes to scoring. Since the start of the 2012 campaign, the Kansas soccer team scored at least one goal in 69 matches. The Jayhawks’ record in those matches: 53-8-8. Kansas won or tied all but eight matches in which it scored, including a 25-4-1 record in those instances during the 2014 and 2015 seasons, and a 10-1-4 record this year.
FIRST TO SCORE, WINS GALORE
Over its past 103 games, dating back to the beginning of the 2012 season, Kansas developed an interesting trend when it comes to which team tallies the first goal of the match. During that 103-game span, the Jayhawks were on the losing end only once in contests which they put in the match’s first goal. Kansas has amassed a record of 50-1-5 in those games, which included an 8-0-1 mark last year and a 10-0-2 mark this season. The Jayhawks’ win over Missouri on Nov. 13 marked their 45th-consecutive unbeaten match when they have scored first.
On the flip side, KU wasn’t quite as fortunate when its opponents have gotten on the board first. Kansas’ win over Texas Tech on Sept. 23 marked just the third victory for the Jayhawks in that same 103-game span when finding itself trailing 1-0 at any point in a match. The Jayhawks are now 3-38-3 in those games over the last four seasons, which included all six of the Jayhawks’ losses and two of their draws in 2016.
The Jayhawks will now look forward to the spring exhibition season, which will feature two months of practices and five matches. The 2017 season schedule will be announced in May, with the first day of the fall campaign tentatively scheduled for Aug. 18, 2017. Log on to KUAthletics.com for complete updates as the Jayhawks compete in the spring season and begin preparations for the 23rd season of Kansas soccer.
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