|GM 16: Kansas vs. Oklahoma
||Friday, October 21
||7 p.m. Central
||OU Soccer Complex (3,500)
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Notes Game Notes
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas Jayhawks will begin their final road trip of the regular season when they meet the Oklahoma Sooners on Friday, Oct. 21 in Norman. Both teams sit in the top half of the Big 12 table and are among the top-25 of the latest RPI rankings, meaning the match will have large implications for postseason play. Kickoff from John Crain Field is slated for 7 p.m., and will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma and the Fox Sports Go app.
ABOUT THE JAYHAWKS
The Jayhawks are coming off their longest layoff of the season after having 12 days between matches. Kansas has suffered only one defeat in its last six outings, a 1-0 loss to currently top-ranked West Virginia on Oct. 7. KU has already clinched a spot in the Big 12 Championship to be held in Kansas City in two weeks, marking the 15th time in the last 16 years the Jayhawks will play in the league tournament.
The Jayhawk offense has been up and down this season, averaging 1.5 goals per game in the month of September, however managing only 0.8 goals per match in August and October. The Kansas team has been an unselfish one, featuring nine different Jayhawks with double-digit shots, while 11 players boast a goal or an assist. Sophomore Grace Hagan leads the team with her six goals and 40 shots. Hagan, along with freshman Katie McClure, have combined for nearly a third of the team’s shots, with 77 between the two Wichita natives.
The KU defense has allowed 13 goals in 2016, the fourth-fewest in the conference this season. The Jayhawks have held their opponents to an average of just 11.5 shots per game, and KU foes have managed to put only 35 percent of those tries on frame. The KU defense has allowed one opponent goal or fewer in 17 of its last 19 outings dating back to last season.
ABOUT THE SOONERS
Oklahoma enters Friday’s match amidst one of its best seasons in program history, already boasting 11 victories and recently completing an eight-match winning streak, a school record. The Sooners rebounded off a two-game losing skid last weekend when they defeated Oklahoma State, 2-0, in Stillwater. Oklahoma is ranked ninth in the latest RPI rankings, its fifth-straight week inside the top-10 of the national index.
The Sooner offense has been impressive this year, scoring two or more goals in nine of its 16 games and only being shut out on three occasions. OU has scored 22 of its 29 goals in the second half or overtime and is averaging over 14 shots per match. Senior forward Liz Keester leads her team and is second in the Big 12 with seven goals and has also turned in a team-leading 42 shots.
The Oklahoma defense has been tough to crack of late, with three shutouts in its last six outings. On the season, OU opponents are averaging less than 10 shots per match but are putting 42 percent of those attempts on frame. Senior goalkeeper Kassidie Stade has started in goal in each of OU’s 16 matches. Stade has turned in a goals-against average of 0.92, a save percentage of .773 and has tallied six shutouts.
Matt Potter is in his fifth season as the head coach of the Oklahoma women’s soccer program, amassing a record of 42-42-13. He has led the Sooners to two-straight 10-win seasons and the program’s first undefeated home record in 2015.
LAST TIME OUT
Despite outshooting the visitors 17-6 over the final 65 minutes of play, the Kansas Jayhawks were unable to separate themselves from the Oklahoma State Cowgirls as the two squads played to a 1-1 tie on Oct. 9 at Rock Chalk Park. Sophomore Grace Hagan netted her sixth goal of the season in the match that featured 43 fouls and eight yellow cards.
For just the second time on the year, the Jayhawks conceded an opponent goal within the opening 10 minutes of the half. The Big 12’s leading scorer, Oklahoma State’s Courtney Dike, got her team on the board within the first five minutes with her eighth strike of the season. Chances for either team were few and far between for the rest of the first half, with only nine shots between the two squads coming over the final 40 minutes of the half.
A different Kansas team emerged from the halftime locker room. The Jayhawks knotted the score up just five minutes after the start of the period. Off a deflected shot from freshman Katie McClure, Hagan sent in the equalizer in the 50th minute. Kansas continued to attack over the rest of the period and saw several prime chances to take the lead. Both teams saw chances at the golden goal, but were unable to send in the game-winner. After 20 minutes of extra time the match came to a close with a 1-1 tie.
With the release of the season’s Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) report by the NCAA this week, several good signs stick out for the Jayhawks. Kansas checked in at No. 24 on the list that takes numerous factors into account including strength of schedule, record against top-50 teams and home versus road record. The ranking marked the highest for the Jayhawks since Nov. 2, 2014, when Kansas sat at 19th in the RPI.
One area that may be helping Kansas in its climb up the national charts is its strength of schedule. The Jayhawks currently hold the nation’s 22nd-toughest schedule, according to the RPI. Six future or past KU opponents currently find themselves in the top-30 of this week’s index, while a total of 11 are sitting in the top-50. In this week’s NSCAA Coaches’ poll, eight Jayhawk opponents are ranked or receiving votes.
This week’s report also ranks the Big 12 as the nation’s toughest conferences. The league, which sits at No. 1 in the conference RPI standings, boasts all nine teams inside the top-77. The conference’s high ranking also means the Jayhawks will get plenty of chances to up their national standing as each of their final three regular-season contests will be against teams currently ranked inside the top-50 of the RPI.
The Jayhawks have continued their trend of relatively strong performances in matches away from Rock Chalk Park. Kansas can hang its hat on an impressive record in road games over the past two-plus years. KU has played 26 regular-season matches away from home since the start of the 2014 season, amassing a record of 14-9-3, which includes a 4-2-2 slate this season.
The Jayhawks will hope they can continue this trend for the home stretch of Big 12 play, with two of their final three matches away from Lawrence.
Forward Grace Hagan has put together an impressive sophomore campaign. She leads the Jayhawks with six goals, 15 points and 40 shots, figures that also rank the Wichita product among the top-seven in the Big 12 in their respective categories. It’s been evident that when Hagan goes, so go the Jayhawks. Kansas is 4-1-2 this season when Hagan scores or assists and is 4-1-1 when Hagan tallies three shots or more. KU opponents may have picked up on this trend as in the nine instances when Hagan was held to two shots or fewer, the Jayhawks were winners in just four of those contests.
Hagan is on pace for one of the best sophomore seasons in program history. Two more goals would make her one of the top-three scoring sophomores ever to don the Crimson and Blue. It was also mark the most goals scored by a Jayhawk sophomore since Emily Cressy shot in 12 during the 2009 campaign.
MESSIN’ WITH TEXAS
In its first 20 years as a program, the state of Texas proved to be a tough place to play for a host of Jayhawk squads, that is until the 2014 season and forward. Prior to 2014, Kansas amassed an overall record of 11-30-8 in matches played inside the Lone Star State, resulting in a win percentage of just .306. Since the start of 2014 though, the Jayhawks turned that trend on its head, going 7-1-0. KU’s loss to Texas Tech in Lubbock last season brought the longest “Lone Star State” winning streak in program history to an end at five.
Regardless of where they are playing, the Jayhawks have been pests to Texas schools over the last two-plus seasons. In its 18 games against Texas schools, KU has amassed a record of 13-4-1, a goal differential of +13 and a goals-against average of 0.65.
Kansas will have one more chance this season to pick up a win inside Texas. KU will journey to take on Baylor this weekend. KU has won each of its last four match-ups with the Bears.
With the Jayhawks currently boasting a 42-match unbeaten streak in games they score first, it’s important for Kansas to get on the board early. The 2016 squad has done just that, with 10 of Kansas’ 18 goals coming in the first half and six of those netted in the first 20 minutes of action. Katie McClure’s eventual game-winner against UMKC on Sept. 11, which came just 2:46 into the match, sits as the earliest KU strike so far this season.
This is almost a complete reversal when comparing to the KU squad from a year ago. The 2015 Jayhawks scored 16 of their 24 goals in the second half or later, nine of which came after the 75th minute. Last year’s squad also netted just two goals within the opening 20 minutes of a match.
With any veteran laden team, there are bound to be some impressive career streaks established and the 2016 Jayhawks are no different. One streak that shows the continuity and consistency of this KU crew is the amount of consecutive games started. Nine Jayhawks boast active or career-long stretches of 25-straight matches started or longer. This includes junior Kayla Morrison, whose streak sits at 57-straight starts for Kansas.
Morrison’s mark is already among the longest in program history as it sits 10th on the all-time list among field players. If the Corona, California product is in the starting lineup in each of Kansas’ final four regular-season games, she would move to eighth on that list with 60-straight starts.
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.
SPREADING THE WEALTH
The Kansas offense has shown to be a tough assignment for opposing defenses this year after a host of Jayhawks have made their presence known on the stat sheet. Eleven different Jayhawks have had their hand in at least one of the team’s goals thus far in 2016, either scoring or assisting. A total of 16 players have managed to tally five or more shots and, while sophomore Grace Hagan and freshman Katie McClure have notched nearly a third of the team’s total shots (77), seven of their teammates have added double-digit attempts to the team’s total of 240.
This is a trend is an improvement from last year’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.
FEEDING ON NONCON
With the conclusion of the nonconference portion of their season, the Jayhawks have made it nine-straight years with a .500 winning percentage or better against regular-season nonconference foes. Since the start of the 2012 season, Kansas has posted an impressive 32-15-6 mark in its 53 regular-season nonconference matches (66%), which includes a 20-8-3 mark since 2014. In the last five seasons, KU has outscored noncon opponents by a tally of 91-50.
Mark Francis has led KU to a winning record in noncon in 17 of his 18 seasons in Lawrence and is now 111-47-10 in regular-season nonconference games.
LET’S GET DEFENSIVE
With a veteran crew comprising the KU back line this season, the Jayhawks are once again proving to be a stout defensive team. Kansas is boasting a goals-against average of 0.82 following its first 15 matches, which includes four shutouts. The Jayhawks are also allowing just 11.5 opponent shots per match, which includes three games when KU opponents sent in seven or fewer attempts. Over their last 57 matches (dating back to the start of the 2014 season), the Jayhawks shutout 18 opponents and boasted a goals-against average of 0.93. Kansas has conceded only 55 opponent goals in that span and has allowed one opponent goal or less in 17 of its last 19 matches.
Already this season, KU has turned in an impressive shutout streak. 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. KU has also conceded just two opponent goals in its last 344 minutes of play, good for a goals-against average of 0.52 during that span.
JUST ONE WILL DO IT
Already in 2016 the Jayhawks have 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 season, the Kansas soccer team has scored at least one goal in 65 matches. The Jayhawks’ record in those matches: 50-8-7. Kansas was won or drawn all but eight matches in which it has scored, including a 25-4-1 record in those instances during the 2014 and 2015 seasons, and an 8-1-3 record this year.
FIRST TO SCORE, WINS GALORE
Over its past 97 games, dating back to the beginning of the 2012 season, Kansas has developed an interesting trend when it comes to which team tallies the first goal of the match. During that 97-game span, the Jayhawks have been on the losing end only once in contests which they have put in the match’s first goal. Kansas has amassed a record of 47-1-5 in those games, which included an 8-0-1 mark last year and a 7-0-2 mark so far this season. The Jayhawks’ draw with Oklahoma State on Oct. 9 marked their 42nd-consecutive unbeaten match when they have scored first.
On the flip side, KU hasn’t been 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 97-game span when finding itself trailing 1-0 at any point in a match. The Jayhawks are now 3-36-2 in those games over the last four seasons, which includes all four of the Jayhawks’ losses thus far in 2016.
The Jayhawks will journey back to the Lone Star State for their final road match of the regular season when they take on the Baylor Bears on Sunday, Oct. 23. Kickoff from Waco is slated for 1 p.m., and can be viewed on Fox Sports Southwest or the FoxSportsGo app.
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