Jayhawks close out road stint at Iowa State Friday
Freshman Ceri Holland
|Game 13: at Iowa State|
|Cyclone Soccer Complex (1,500)|
|Shot on Goal %||.500||.382|
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas Jayhawks will close out a five-game road stretch when they take on Iowa State Friday night in Ames. KU, winless in its last six outings, will meet a Cyclone squad which is also in the midst of a five-game losing stretch. Kansas has claimed five wins in its last six outings with ISU, including a 1-0 victory last year in Lawrence. Kickoff from the Cyclone Soccer Complex is slated for 7 p.m.
ABOUT THE JAYHAWKS
After reeling off a five-game winning streak which was capped by a 2-1 upset win over No. 7 USC on Sept. 3, Kansas is winless in its six most recent outings, which includes a 1-1 draw at Texas Tech Sunday. 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 was active in its first 12 outings of 2017, having been shutout only twice and posting multiple goals in six of its contests. KU has tallied 17 goals and is averaging 12.3 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 11 matches. Twelve other Jayhawks have tallied at least one goal or an assist, with five of those having already amassed 13 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 six outings, the Jayhawks have let 13 opponent goals in the back of the net. Overall, KU opponents are posting 13.9 shots per match with over 40 percent of those ending up on target. Senior Maddie Dobyns was Kansas’ starting keeper in each match. She has collected 48 saves and amassed a save percentage of .774. The senior has also tallied four shutouts in 12 games and has amassed a goals-against average of 1.16.
ABOUT THE CYCLONES
Located in Ames, Iowa with an enrollment of 36,660, Iowa State enters Friday’s match with an 2-8-1 record after its first 11 games. The Cyclones have lost five-straight matches, four of which came on the road. ISU has played only three matches at home so far in 2017, going 2-1-0 in those instances, with its lone loss coming to then-No. 7 Florida, 2-1.
The Iowa State offense has seen its struggles so far this season, scoring just eight times in its first 11 outings, which includes being shutout six times. ISU is posting 11.2 shots per game and is scoring on just over seven percent of those attempts. The Cyclones have also managed to put only 38 percent of those 11.2 shots per game on target. Klasey Medelberg and Courtney Powell share the team lead in goals with two apiece. Brooke Tasker is tops on the squad in shots with 24.
The ISU defense has conceded 17 goals this season, which includes eight over its last five contests. Cyclone opponents are averaging over 16 shots per match but are putting only 37 percent of those attempts on frame. Iowa State has played two keepers so far in 2017 with freshman Dayja Schwichenberg posting the majority of the minutes between the net. Schwichenberg has a goals-against average of 1.53, collected 28 saves and tallied three shutouts.
Tony Minatta is in his fourth season as the head coach of the Iowa State women’s soccer program. In his first three-plus seasons with the Cyclones, Minatta has amassed a record of 25-39-2.
LAST TIME OUT
The Kansas Jayhawks fought back after an early Texas Tech Red Raider goal to pull out a 1-1 draw Sunday afternoon at the John Walker Soccer Complex. Sophomore Sophie Maierhofer netted the equalizing goal to help Kansas put an end to a four-game losing skid.
The Red Raiders got on the board early with a strike off the foot of Rebekah O’Brien. The TTU senior sent in her first goal of the year off a free kick from 25 yards away from the KU frame. Her attempt, taken from the center of the field, curled just inside the left post and just out of reach of the outstretched arms of KU goalkeeper Maddie Dobyns.
Kansas fought its way back into the match 18 minutes later with the help of a quality shot from Maierhofer. A strong build-up in the Red Raider end of the field saw freshman Amari Hopkins find space inside the 18-yard box. Hopkins passed back to Madison Meador at the top of the box, who then found Maierhofer on the left side of the rectangle. The Graz, Austria product then buried her fourth goal of the season inside the far post.
Friday’s bout with the Cyclones will be the last in a five-game stretch for Kansas away from Rock Chalk Park. That stint marks the Jayhawks’ longest on the road since 2004, however, over the last three-plus seasons, Kansas has put together a trend of relatively strong performances in matches away from Rock Chalk Park. KU has played 35 regular-season road games since the start of the 2014 season, amassing a record of 17-12-6 (.571), which included a 4-3-3 record last year and a 2-3-2 mark this season. The Jayhawks hope they can continue this trend over the home stretch of Big 12 play, with three more matches set to be played away from Rock Chalk Park.
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 three weeks, and nothing demonstrates this fact better than comparing the team’s first six matches with its six most recent. The team began the year with five victories in its first six outings, but the team that took the field the last six times is winless. 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 six matches, the Kansas defense was almost unbreakable, conceding only four 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 six most recent games, the Jayhawks have allowed 13 goals, which included three matches with multiple shots finding the back of the net. KU opponents have also averaged 17.5 shots per game over the last six contests, a seven-shot increase compared to the first half of the season.
The recent struggles may largely be attributed to a brutal stretch that the Jayhawks have been forced to endure since the calendar turned to September. Through this weekend’s journey to Iowa State, KU will have spent 14 of the month’s 29 days on the road. The Jayhawks’ opponents in September have been anything but a breeze either, with KU’s last seven foes boasting a combined record of 14-15-9.
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 5-5-2 after their first 12 games of the season, have played or will play eight 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-10.
The Jayhawks have already played four top-25 teams over the first six 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 with the bulk of Big 12 Conference play still to come. The conference currently features four teams that are ranked or receiving votes in the Coaches’ poll and that includes No. 8 Texas, No. 9 West Virginia and No. 19 Oklahoma State. The Big 12’s winning percentage, 61.9 percent, after the first six 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.
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. Thirteen 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 13 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 75 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 seven 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 2,601 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 115 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 115-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 last season marked just the third and most recent victory for the Jayhawks in that same 115-game span when finding itself trailing 1-0 at any point in a match. Kansas is now 3-42-4 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 four 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.
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.
Kansas kicks off a three-game home tint with a bang when the Jayhawks host the first soccer edition of the Dillons Sunflower Showdown. Kansas State, in its second year of existence as a program, will journey to Lawrence to face KU on Oct. 6. Kickoff from Rock Chalk Park is set for 7 p.m., and will be televised on Spectrum Sports and ESPN3.
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