KU soccer to kick off Big 12 play with TCU Friday
Junior Grace Hagan
|Game 11: at TCU|
|Garvey Rosenthal Stadium(1,500)|
|Shot on Goal %||.508||.486|
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas Jayhawks will look to start conference play on a high note when they hit the pitch against the TCU Horned Frogs on Friday, Sept. 22. KU, hoping to put an end to a three-game losing streak, will kick off against the Horned Frogs at Garvey Rosenthal Stadium at 6 p.m. The match will be broadcast on Fox Sports Southwest and the FoxSportsGo app.
ABOUT THE JAYHAWKS
After reeling off a five-game winning streak, Kansas is winless in four most recent outings, which includes a 3-2 loss at BYU Monday afternoon. The Jayhawks, who were picked to finish second by the league’s coaches in the Big 12’s preseason poll, are in the midst of a stretch of five-straight matches away from Rock Chalk Park.
Kansas’ offense has been active in the first half of 2017, having been shutout only once and posting multiple goals in six of their contests. KU has tallied 16 goals and is averaging 12.8 shots per outing. Junior Grace Hagan, a member of the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List, leads the squad and the Big 12 with five goals and three assists. She has scored or assisted in seven of KU’s last nine matches. Eleven other Jayhawks have tallied at least one goal or an assist, with five of those having already amassed 11 or more shots.
The KU defense was stellar over its first six outings of the season, posting an opponent scoreless streak of over 450 minutes in that time. However, over their last four outings, the Jayhawks have let 11 opponent goals in the back of the net. Overall, KU opponents are posting 12.7 shots per match with over 46 percent of those ending up on target. Senior Maddie Dobyns was Kansas’ starting keeper in each match. She has collected a league-leading 42 saves and amassed a save percentage of .778. The senior has also tallied four shutouts in 10 games and has amassed a goals-against average of 1.23.
ABOUT THE HORNED FROGS
Located in Fort Worth, Texas with an enrollment of 10,033, TCU enters Friday’s match with a 6-3-0 record in nine nonconference games. The Horned Frogs are second in the Big 12 with 21 goals and are fourth in the league in goals allowed, having conceded seven opponent goals over the first five weeks of the season.
The Horned Frog offense has been potent this season, scoring multiple goals in six of its games, which includes three outings with four or more goals. TCU is posting 16.2 shots per game and is scoring on over 14 percent of those attempts. TCU has also managed to put over 48 percent of those 16.2 shots per game on target. Senior forward Allison Ganter leads the team and the league with five goals and has added four assists, while senior forward Emma Heckendorn is tops on the squad with 22 shots.
The TCU defense has conceded only seven goals this season. Horned Frog opponents are averaging 7.8 shots per match and are putting over 48 percent of those attempts on frame. TCU has played two keepers so far in 2017 with sophomore Katie Lund seeing just over 600 of the team’s 828 minutes between the posts. She and Emily Alvarado have combined for a goals-against average of 0.76, a save percentage of .794 and have tallied 27 saves.
Eric Bell is in his sixth season as the head coach of the TCU women’s soccer program. In his first five-plus seasons with the Horned Frogs, Bell has amassed a 37-36-15 record.
STARTING BIG 12 OFF WITH A BANG
While one game is not enough to determine the outcome of an entire season, for the Jayhawks, the Big 12 opener has been a strong indicator of how Kansas will fair in the conference over past seasons. In the last 18 years, the Jayhawks have claimed victory in their league opener on seven occasions. In those seven years, KU went on to post winning Big 12 records and finished in the top-four of the league table five times. On the other hand, in the nine occasions Kansas lost its conference opener, the Jayhawks finished with a winning record and among the top-four just twice. This weekend, history is on KU’s side as they kick off league play at TCU’s Garvey Rosenthal Stadium. Since the Horned Frogs joined the Big 12 in 2012, KU is a perfect 3-0 in Fort Worth.
LAST TIME OUT
For the first time in more than five seasons, the Kansas soccer team was victim to an opposing team come-from-behind victory as the Jayhawks fell to the BYU Cougars, 3-2, Monday afternoon at South Field. KU’s unbeaten streak of 51 matches when it scores the game’s first goal was snapped after the Cougars rattled off three unanswered goals over 36 minutes of action.
The Jayhawks struck less than three minutes into the match off the foot of Eva Eliasdottir. The sophomore defender let a shot loose from more than 25 yards away from the BYU goal that snuck inside the upper right-hand corner of the frame. The goal was the first of Eliasdottir’s collegiate career.
Down 3-1 and with Kansas sending numbers forward in the final minutes of regulation, junior Grace Hagan was able to send in her third goal in as many games to pull KU within striking distance of a comeback. That’s as close as the Jayhawks could get however, falling to BYU 3-2.
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 8-1-0 inside the Lone Star State. KU’s loss to Texas Tech in Lubbock in 2015 is its only blemish in Texas over the last three years.
Regardless of where they are playing, the Jayhawks have been pests to Texas schools over the last three-plus regular seasons. In its 15 games against schools from the state of Texas, KU has amassed a record of 12-3-0, a goal differential of +13 and a goals-against average of 0.66. Kansas will have two chances this season to pick up a win inside Texas. KU will journey to take on TCU and Texas Tech this weekend.
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 5-4-1 after their first 10 games of the season, have played or will play nine teams that are ranked or receiving votes in the most recent United Soccer Coaches’ top-25 poll.
The Jayhawks have already played four top-25 teams over the first four-plus weeks 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 as Big 12 Conference play looms. The conference currently features four teams that are ranked or receiving votes in the Coaches’ poll and that includes No. 5 West Virginia, No. 17 Texas and No. 22 Oklahoma State. The Big 12’s winning percentage, 65.3 percent, after the first five 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 member of the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List leads the Jayhawks with five goals, three assists and 13 points, figures that also rank the Wichita product among the top-eight 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.
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. Twelve different Jayhawks have had their hand in at least one of the team’s goals thus far in 2017, either scoring or assisting. A total of 11 players have managed to tally four or more shots and which includes five players who have posted 11 or more attempts.
This is a trend that has been carried over from last year’s squad which was also an unselfish bunch, as 12 different players managed to post double-figure shots and 13 Jayhawks tallied at least one goal or assist in 2016.
FEEDING ON NONCON
This season, the Jayhawks made it 10-straight seasons with a .500 winning percentage or better against regular-season nonconference foes. Since the start of the 2012 season, Kansas has posted an impressive 37-19-7 mark in its 63 regular-season nonconference matches (65%), which includes a 25-12-4 mark since 2014. In the last six seasons, KU has outscored noncon opponents by a tally of 106-65. Mark Francis has now led KU to a winning record in noncon in 18 of his 19 seasons in Lawrence and is now 117-51-11 in regular season nonconference games.
Senior Kayla Morrison has continued an impressive streak into her final year in Lawrence as she has started all 73 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 nine 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 2,386 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 113 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 113-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 Texas Tech on Sept. 23 of last season marked just the third and most recent victory for the Jayhawks in that same 112-game span when finding itself trailing 1-0 at any point in a match. Kansas is now 3-41-3 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 their three losses 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.
JAYHAWKS PICKED TO FINISH SECOND IN PRESEASON BIG 12 POLL
Kansas soccer was predicted to finish second in the 2017 league standings according to the Big 12 preseason coaches’ poll which was released Aug. 9. The ranking marked the highest Kansas has been picked to finish since the preseason coaches’ poll began in 2000.
Five-time defending league champion West Virginia was the coaches’ unanimous choice to win the conference, receiving eight first-place votes and 81 points overall. The Mountaineers were followed by Kansas (71), Oklahoma (57), Texas Tech (55), Baylor (47), Oklahoma State (38), TCU (37), Texas (32), Iowa State (23) and Kansas State (9).
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.
The Jayhawks will head to West Texas to take on the Texas Tech Red Raiders on Sunday, Sept. 24. The match, which will be streamed on TexasTech.tv, will kick off from the John Walker Soccer Complex at 1 p.m. KU will then head to Ames, Iowa for its final match of its five-game road stretch when the Jayhawks take on Iowa State on Friday, Sept. 29 at 7 p.m.
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