Rock Chalk Invitational set to kick off 2017 for KU soccer
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.
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas will begin its 23rd season of women’s soccer when the Jayhawks host the Rock Chalk Invitational this weekend at Rock Chalk Park. KU will welcome in Tulsa, Central Michigan and former Big 12 foe, Nebraska, for the event that will feature games on Friday and Sunday. The Jayhawks will take on the Cornhuskers Friday night in a 7 p.m., first touch. The match will follow the Central Michigan-Tulsa contest to begin at 4 p.m., and will be streamed live on KUAthletics.com.
ABOUT THE JAYHAWKS
The Kansas Jayhawks return 17 letterwinners and six starters from the 2016 squad which went 11-6-4, finished second in the Big 12 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008. Mark Francis is entering his 19th season at the helm in Lawrence and holds a 199-148-28 record with the Jayhawks and is second among active Big 12 coaches with 223 career coaching victories.
The Jayhawk offense will be looking to fill the void left by six outgoing seniors who logged substantial minutes for KU over the last two seasons. Junior Grace Hagan is Kansas’ top returning scorer after tallying seven goals and four assists during her sophomore campaign. Hagan is one of 30 women to be named to the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List. Sophomore Katie McClure was the team’s second-leading scorer last year and returns after beginning named to the Big 12 All-Freshman Team in 2016. The 2017 KU roster features seven other players who tallied a goal and/or an assist last season.
The KU defense is again to be expected to be stout this year, with the return of three of last season’s starters as well as several talented reserves. In 21 matches last year the Jayhawks boasted a goals-against average of 0.85 and held opponents to 12 shots per game during that span. Kansas will once again carry three keepers on the 2017 roster and all seem fit for the starting role. Senior Maddie Dobyns was the regular starter for the Jayhawks last season while sophomore Regan Gibbs tallied four starts. Together, the two keepers combined for 72 saves, a save percentage of .791 and six shutouts.
FRANCIS EYEING 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 199-148-28 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.
ABOUT THE CORNHUSKERS
The 2017 Nebraska squad will open its season coming off a successful 2016 campaign were it finished with an 11-6-5 record and advanced to the NCAA Championships Round of 32. The Cornhuskers return 18 letterwinners from that team, including senior Haley Hanson and sophomores Aubrei Corder and Sinclaire Miramontez, who were each named to the Big Ten preseason list.
Nebraska will look to fill the void left on the offensive side of the ball by the departure of Jaycie Johnson, who scored 11 of her team’s 25 goals a year ago. Last season the Cornhuskers scored 1.14 goals per game and managed to put 42 percent of their total shots on frame. Hanson is the squad’s top returning scorer after netting seven in 2016.
The Cornhuskers were stout on the defensive side of the ball a year ago, allowing less than one goal per game (0.85 GAA) and held opponents to just 10 shots per match. NU also shutout 11 of its opponents in 2016 which included seven clean sheets in their final 10 outings. In goal, sophomore Corder is again expected to be her team’s No. 1 keeper. Last year, started all 22 matches and amassed 78 saves, stopped nearly 80 percent of the shots put on goal and tallied 11 shutouts.
John Walker is starting his 24th season as the head coach at Nebraska. Walker has guided the Cornhuskers to a 309-146-34 record during his time in Lincoln. During his tenure he has led his squad to 12 NCAA Tournament appearances, two trips to the Elite Eight, six trips to the Sweet 16 and 10 conference championships, including Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles in 2013.
HOME SWEET HOME
The Kansas-Nebraska match Friday will mark the sixth time in the last eight seasons the Jayhawks will open their regular season at home. Rock Chalk Park will be a welcome site as KU is coming off a successful three-year stint playing on its home turf. The Jayhawks are 19-7-2 in matches played at home during the regular season since the start of the 2014 campaign. From 2013-14, Kansas also enjoyed an 11-match home winning streak, the longest in program history.
History is also on the Jayhawks’ side in regards to success in their regular-season home openers. In Mark Francis’ first 18 years as the KU head coach, his teams are 11-6-1 in their first home games of the regular season, which includes just three losses in those matches since the 2008 season.
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).
HAGAN NAMED TO MAC HERMANN TROPHY WATCH LIST
Kansas junior Grace Hagan was one of 30 women in Division I NCAA soccer to be selected to the Watch List for the Missouri Athletic Club’s (MAC) Hermann Trophy, which is awarded to the nation’s most valuable collegiate soccer player every season.
Hagan, who hails from Wichita, Kansas, enters this season coming off a stellar sophomore campaign in 2016. An honoree on the NSCAA All-Central Region First Team, Hagan scored a team-high seven goals and added four assists to combine for 18 total points on the year, the fifth-most in the Big 12 Conference. She was also selected to the All-Big 12 First Team. She added a pair of game-winning goals on the year and helped the Jayhawks to their best conference finish in over a decade, finishing 5-1-2 in league play and aided Kansas to the program’s seventh NCAA Tournament appearance. Hagan is six goals shy from moving into the top-10 of Kansas’ all-time goal scorers list.
EXPERIENCE VS. YOUTH
The 2017 edition of the Jayhawks will be a youthful bunch, with 16 of the 25-woman roster boasting only one season of collegiate experience or less. There are eight newcomers on this season’s roster, including seven true freshmen, who the coaches are leaning on to contribute almost immediately. The squad will feature five seniors, one of whom is in her fifth year. Four of the five members of the 2017 senior class have played in at least 39 matches.
BIG CLEATS TO FILL
The 2017 Jayhawks will try 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.
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 last 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 a 10-0-2 mark last season. The Jayhawks’ win over Missouri on Nov. 13 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament 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 of last season 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.
LET’S GET DEFENSIVE
Last 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 also 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.
The Jayhawks will have just over 48 hours to recover from their Friday-night battle with the Cornhuskers before they take on the Central Michigan Chippewas in their second game of the Rock Chalk Invitational. Kansas and CMU will kick off inside Rock Chalk Park on Sunday, Aug. 20 at 1 p.m. The match will be streamed live on KUAthletics.com.
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