Kansas soccer to host No. 9 Texas Friday at Rock Chalk Park
Beginning in August 2017, fans will be allowed to bring only one clear plastic bag no larger than 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches or a one-gallon, clear, resealable plastic storage bag per person inside Kansas athletics events.
Fans will also be allowed a small clutch purse not to exceed 5.5 inches by 8.5 inches.
Senior goalkeeper Maddie Dobyns
|Game 15: vs. Texas|
|Rock Chalk Park (2,500)|
|Shot on Goal %||.474||.420|
LAWRENCE, Kan. – For the third time this season, the Kansas soccer team will host a top-10 ranked opponent on its home turf when the Jayhawks welcome the ninth-ranked Texas Longhorns to Lawrence on Friday, Oct. 13. KU, which is trying to pick up its second win over a top-10 opponent this season, will look to hand the Longhorns (11-0-2) their first loss of the 2017 campaign. Kickoff from Rock Chalk Park is set for 7 p.m. and will be streamed on KUAthletics.com.
ABOUT THE JAYHAWKS
The Jayhawks enter the match with the Longhorns at 6-6-2 on the year, but with only one victory in their last seven outings. KU begins a stretch of playing three teams currently ranked in the top-25 over its final five regular-season matches, which includes a pair of contests against teams inside the top-10.
Kansas’ offense has been up and down in its 14 outings of 2017, having scored multiple goals in seven of its contests, but also being shutout three times, two of those occasions coming in the Jayhawks’ last four outings. KU has tallied 19 goals and is averaging 14 shots per outing. Junior Grace Hagan, a member of the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List, leads the squad with five goals, while senior Lois Heuchan is tops on the team in assists with four. Twelve other Jayhawks have tallied at least one goal or an assist, with six of those having already amassed 13 or more shots.
The KU defense was stellar over its first seven outings of the season, conceding only five goals and posting an opponent scoreless streak of over 450 minutes in that time. However, over their last seven outings, the Jayhawks have allowed an average of nearly two goals per match. Overall, KU opponents are posting 13 shots per game with just over 39 percent of those ending up on target. Senior Maddie Dobyns has been Kansas’ starting keeper in each match. She has collected 50 saves and amassed a save percentage of .758. The senior has also tallied four shutouts and has amassed a goals-against average of 1.13.
ABOUT THE LONGHORNS
Located in Austin, Texas with an enrollment of 51,334, No. 9 Texas enters Friday’s match as one of just three remaining unbeaten teams (with ties) in all of NCAA Division I women’s collegiate soccer alongside No. 2 UCLA (11-0-2) and Wisconsin-Milwaukee (11-0-3).
The UT offense has been solid in 2017, scoring multiple goals in six of its contests and only being shutout once. Texas is posting 17.4 shots per game and is scoring on just over nine percent of those attempts. The Longhorns have also managed to put 42 percent of those 17.4 shots per game on target. Sophomore Cyera Hintzen leads the team with seven goals, four assists and 42 shots on the year, and is joined by nine of her teammates who have notched at least one goal or an assist in 2017.
The Texas defense has been stellar this year, having conceded just seven goals this season and shuting out eight of its opponents. Longhorn foes are averaging only nine shots per match and are putting 35 percent of those attempts on frame. Sophomore goalkeeper Nicole Curry has played each minute this season in goal for UT. In her 13 outings she has collected 33 saves and has amassed a goals-against average of 0.51
Angela Kelly is in her sixth season as the head coach of the Texas women’s soccer program. In her first five-plus seasons with the Longhorns, Kelly has amassed a 58-39-15 record.
TOP-10 TEAMS BEWARE
The Jayhawks will take the pitch on Friday against its third top-10 opponent this season when No. 9 Texas heads to Lawrence. This match will mark the 13th time Kansas will host a top-10 opponent on its home turf. Following its win over No. 7 USC on Sept. 3, KU has now picked up three wins over top-10 squads in Lawrence since 2008. The Jayhawks topped No. 7 Oklahoma State, 2-1, in 2012 and also claimed a 1-0 victory over No. 6 Texas A&M during the 2008 season. That victory over the Aggies still stands as the highest-ranked opponent ever defeated by the Jayhawks.
LAST TIME OUT
Some late heroics from Kansas State goalkeeper Miranda Larkin helped stave off a last stitch rally from the Jayhawks as KSU managed to fend off Kansas, 1-0, Friday night at Rock Chalk Park. The match marked the first edition of the Dillons Sunflower Showdown in soccer, with a record crowd of 2,514 in the stands, the highest-attended NCAA DI women’s soccer match ever to be held in the state of Kansas.
With less than two minutes remaining in the match and the Jayhawks down 1-0 and scrambling to find the equalizing goal, KU put together some of their best attacks of the day, but could not solve KSU’s senior keeper, Larkin. Senior Lois Heuchan connected on a point-blank attempt from just inside the six-yard box that Larkin somehow managed to deflected out of bounds. Seconds later, a header from Sophie Maierhofer flew just inches over the KSU cross bar. With just 10 second left before the final buzzer, Ceri Holland got on the end of a long cross into the box. Her header looked primed to tie up the match with seconds to spare, however Larkin was there for her ninth and final save of the match, tipping the attempt over the crossbar just before time expired.
The clock hit 90 minutes moments later with the Wildcats taking round one of the Sunflower Showdown.
MESSIN’ WITH TEXAS
This weekend the KU soccer team will try to continue a recent trend of solid performances against schools from the state of Texas. Lone Star State foes Texas and Baylor will journey to Rock Chalk Park on Friday and Sunday, respectively. The Jayhawks have been pests to Texas schools over the last three-plus regular seasons. In its 19 games against schools from the state of Texas, KU has amassed a record of 12-5-2, a goal differential of +8 and a goals-against average of 0.91.
The record includes some positive results against this weekend’s two opponents. The Jayhawks have claimed five victories in their last eight meetings with UT, this after KU posted only one win in its first 15 outings against the Longhorns. The Bears have also had a tough time against KU in recent years. Kansas has come out on top over Baylor in each of the last five meetings, which included a 1-0 double overtime win for the Jayhawks in BU’s last trip to Lawrence in 2015.
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 8-2-1 inside the Lone Star State. KU’s loss to Texas Tech in Lubbock in 2015 and its loss to TCU two weeks ago are its only two blemishes in Texas over the last three years.
With the release of the season’s Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) report by the NCAA this week, Kansas extended an impressive streak that it has continued to build on over the last two seasons. For 31-straight weeks, dating back to 2014, the Jayhawks have been ranked inside the top-100 on the list that takes numerous factors into account, including strength of schedule, record against top-50 teams and home versus road records.
This week’s report also shows that the Big 12 is among the nation’s toughest conferences. The league boasts seven of its 10 teams inside the top-100. The conference’s high ranking also means the Jayhawks will get plenty of chances to up their national standing as three of their next five contests will be against teams currently ranked inside the top-50 of the RPI.
A TALE OF TWO SEASONS
After a quick start to the 2017 campaign, the Jayhawks have hit a bit of a rough patch over the last month, and nothing demonstrates this fact better than comparing the team’s first seven matches with its seven most recent. The team began the year with only one loss in its first seven outings, but the team that took the field the last seven times has only one win. The difference in squads over those two periods of the 2017 season is apparent by much more than just looking at wins and losses.
In its first seven matches, the Kansas defense was almost unbreakable, conceding only five goals and amassing an opponent scoreless streak of over 450 minutes. KU was allowing only 10 opponent shots per match and only 43 percent of those are ending on goal. Since then though, Kansas’ defense has struggled. In their seven most recent games, the Jayhawks have allowed 15 goals, which included three matches with multiple shots finding the back of the net. KU opponents have also averaged 15.7 shots per game over the last seven contests, a nearly six-shot increase compared to the first half of the season.
The recent struggles may largely be attributed to a brutal stretch that the Jayhawks were forced to endure over the month of September. KU spent 14 of the month’s 29 days on the road. The Jayhawks’ opponents in September have been anything but a breeze either, with seven of KU’s nine September foes boasting a combined record of 52-21-9.
NAVIGATING A TOP-TIER SCHEDULE
Before Kansas soccer even hit the pitch for its first match of the season, the Jayhawks knew they would be in for a gauntlet of a schedule. The 2017 schedule featured 10 teams that competed in the NCAA Tournament a year ago, which included both squads that played in the national final. In the preseason, many pundits dubbed Kansas’ slate as one of the toughest in the nation, and that forecast has no doubt come true.
The Jayhawks, sitting at 6-6-2 after their first 14 games of the season, have played or will play six teams that are ranked or receiving votes in the most recent United Soccer Coaches’ top-25 poll. That number includes three squads inside the top-nine.
The Jayhawks have already played four top-25 teams over the first half of the season, which included a match against the defending NCAA Champion, No. 7 USC, a 2-1 Kansas victory. It appears as though KU will face several more battles with top-25 teams this season with the bulk of Big 12 Conference play still to come. The conference currently features three teams that are ranked or receiving votes in the Coaches’ poll and that includes No. 7 West Virginia, No. 9 Texas and No. 25 Oklahoma State. The Big 12’s winning percentage, 60.4 percent, after the first eight weeks of the season ranks fifth out of the 31 DI conferences.
Junior forward Grace Hagan has already put the early touches on an impressive 2017 campaign. The MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List member leads the Jayhawks with five goals, three assists and 13 points, figures that also rank the Wichita product among the top-10 in the Big 12 in their respective categories.
Hagan is creeping closer to inserting her name among the top offensive players in Jayhawk history. Her 16 career goals currently rank her 11th on Kansas’ all-time goal scorer chart and have her only one shy from inserting her name among the school’s top-10. Hagan’s 10 career assists also have her at No. 17 on KU’s all-time assists list.
Senior Kayla Morrison has continued an impressive streak into her final year in Lawrence as she has started all 77 of the Jayhawks’ matches since her freshman year in 2014. Morrison’s mark is already among the longest in program history as it’s fifth on the all-time list among field players. If the Corona, California product is in the starting lineup in each of Kansas’ final five regular-season games, she would move to a tie for third on that list with 82-straight starts. In fact, Morrison hasn’t even been subbed out of a game in 2,781 minutes. Her last stint on the bench came in a 13-minute rest at the end of the first half of KU’s 2-1 win over Valparaiso on Sept. 4, 2016. She has played every one of KU’s minutes since.
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.
FIRST TO SCORE, WINS GALORE
Over its past 117 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 117-game span, the Jayhawks were on the losing end only twice in contests which they put in the match’s first goal. Kansas has amassed a record of 55-2-6 in those games, which included a 10-0-2 mark last season and already a 5-1-1 mark this year. The Jayhawks’ loss at BYU on Sept. 18 was their first in 51 matches when they scored first.
On the flip side, KU wasn’t quite as fortunate when its opponents have gotten on the board first. Kansas’ win over Iowa State on Sept. 29 marked just the fourth victory for the Jayhawks in that same 117-game span when finding itself trailing 1-0 at any point in a match. Kansas is now 4-43-4 in those games over the last four seasons, which included all six of the Jayhawks’ losses and two of their draws in 2016 as well as five of their losses and a tie this season.
FRANCIS CLAIMS WIN NO. 200 AT KANSAS
With Kansas’ 3-0 win over Central Michigan on Aug. 20, Mark Francis claimed his 200th victory as the head coach of Kansas. He has now amassed a record of 201-148-28 over his 19-year stint in Lawrence. 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.
BIG CLEATS TO FILL
The 2017 Jayhawks are trying to fill the void left by a large group of players lost to graduation following last season. KU will have to navigate through the departure of seven players who were a part of 53 KU victories since 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.
Kansas will return to Rock Chalk Park on Sunday, Oct. 15 when the Jayhawks play host to the Baylor Bears. KU will look to claim their six-straight win over BU when they kickoff at 1 p.m. The match will be broadcast live on Spectrum Sports KC and ESPN3.
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