Jayhawk Insider: Reserves play key role in Kansas upset
By Bryce Reedy
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Thanks in large part to a deep Jayhawks’ bench, the University of Kansas was able to knock off the No. 18 Pepperdine University Waves ,1-0, on opening night at Rock Chalk Park.
“It is a huge confidence booster,” Head coach Mark Francis said. “To beat a good team and to be at home, it is a great way to start.”
KU made the most out of a tough opening draw of the schedule, ending their three-year home opener losing skid with the victory. With over a third of their roster new to the team, this win brings a lot of motivation to open up the season.
“I think it was just our team,” forward Katie McClure explained on the key to the win. “We have so many people that can come in. We have people on the bench that are rowdy. Just everybody around this team has built a chemistry since the preseason. So, I think the team helped make this run so incredible.”
While McClure started and scored the lone goal in the contest, it was KU’s depth that came up huge in the upset victory. The Jayhawks used multiple players off the bench late in the contest in order to help get an edge on the winded Waves. These players allowed the Jayhawks to keep up the defensive pressure and physicality down the stretch.
“A lot of the win today was down to the fact that we have an awfully deep bench,” Francis said. “We used seven people off the bench today that played pretty significant minutes. We are not winning that game without that. Because of that depth we were able to maintain a higher level of intensity defensively.”
The Jayhawks opened the game with what looked to be first-game jitters, which spelt trouble when faced with a top-20 opponent on the other side. However, the tenacious group shook off the rust as the game progressed, especially in the second half, pleasing their head coach.
“What I was really happy about was that when the game starts like that and you aren’t doing well sometimes it snowballs,” Francis explained. “I thought the kids did a really good job of clawing their way back into the game.”
Another key piece all night for the Jayhawks was their true freshman goalkeeper Sarah Peters. Despite the bright lights of Friday night soccer and her first collegiate game, Peters stood strong in net and kept out the visiting Waves finishing with her first career clean sheet.
“It is definitely a lot of pressure as a freshman, but I just tried to come in head strong and confident for my team,” Peters said.
Moving forward this team hopes to use this game as a way to get off to a hot start in the 2018 season. With three of their next five games at home, the Jayhawks will look to use this huge victory even more to their advantage.
“Hopefully this will give our team some momentum,” McClure said.
KUAthletics.com: The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.