Jayhawk Insider: Kansas preparing for stretch run of league play
By Bryce Reedy
LAWRENCE, Kan. – It was another nail biter at Rock Chalk Park Friday night as the Jayhawks took on the scrappy squad out of Iowa State. Once again it came down to the final minutes before a Jayhawk was able to put up the game-winning score. This time it came off the foot of sophomore Ceri Holland, who scored her first goal of the season to give Kansas the 1-0 victory.
Despite the low score, the Jayhawks were not limited in their opportunities to put balls in the back of the net. In the second half alone, Kansas finished with 13 shots compared to the Cyclones’ three.
“We are creating lots of chances,” head Coach Mark Francis said. “I thought in the second half we were much better. The first half we had a tough time breaking them down. […] We aren’t giving up much defensively, but we just got to be more efficient with the chances we do have.”
However, as a team, it can get challenging when you continue to put up shots, but you don’t see the results you are hoping for.
“It is frustrating, but we can’t let that frustration show,” senior Grace Hagan said. “We have talked about that a lot this season. […] So, moving forward we just need to continue to be patient on the attack and look for those chances and try and finish them.”
Despite the team’s frustration, the Jayhawks were able to perform best when the pressure was at its highest. But as happy as the Jayhawk head coach is with his team’s performance in the clutch moments, it is now a matter of duplicating that same energy level throughout the contest, rather than saving it for the final minutes.
“Our sense of urgency goes way up when we are down,” Francis said. “So, we have to replicate that before we are down. That way our sense of urgency has to be there at the beginning of the game rather than waiting until we get down or the chips are down.”
That is going to be a key for Kansas moving forward as the team heads into the heart of Big 12 Conference play. Three of their final five games come against teams who entered the weekend ahead of the Jayhawks in the conference standings. There is no time to relax moving forward and the Jayhawks have to take care of business if they want to be playing in the postseason.
“The next two weeks we don’t have to travel so to speak,” Francis said. “So, I think we have to take advantage of these next three games being local and not having to travel. Because traveling, anybody in the Big 12 on the road is tough. So, we have to take advantage of not having to get on a plane here these next couple of weeks.”
Even with the tough schedule ahead, this team’s 8-2-2 record isn’t an accident. They know they have a chance in every match ahead this season.
“I think we are all really excited, we know that we can face anyone in the country this year,” Holland said. “We are confident that we can go up against anyone in the country. The Big 12 is really competitive and that is good for us. It means that every game means a lot.”
Next up the Jayhawks will travel to Manhattan to take on Kansas State in the Dillons Sunflower Showdown. Game time is set for 7 p.m. on Friday (Oct. 5).
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