Jayhawks drop season opener to Gophers, 2-1

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LAWRENCE, Kan. –A dominant second half wasn’t enough for the Jayhawks to overcome a two-goal deficit as Kansas soccer fell to the Minnesota Golden Gophers, 2-1, in their regular-season opener Friday afternoon at Rock Chalk Park. Grace Hagan shot in her fifth career goal on a penalty kick, while KU outshot the visitors 18-11 over the final 45 minutes of action.
“This game is a tough one to swallow because we had so many great chances in the second half and couldn’t convert,” said head coach Mark Francis. “We were so flat to start the game and they really took advantage of that. So we need to learn from this one and hopefully the better result will come on Sunday (vs. Marquette).”
It was a tale of two halves for the Jayhawks, who tallied 18 shots in the second period after notching just four in the first frame. KU came out of the first half trailing 1-0 after Minnesota forward Simone Kolander kicked in the game’s opening goal in the 20th minute.
 Sophomore Grace Hagan fought for a loose ball against Minnesota Friday afternoon.It seemed a different team emerged out of the locker room at halftime as the Kansas offense came alive once the second-half whistle sounded. The Jayhawks sent in five shot attempts over the opening five minutes of the period, but as would be the theme for much of the half, the KU players did everything but find the back of the net.
In the 69th minute, Kansas saw more bad fortune when the referee awarded the Gophers a penalty kick after a KU foul inside the 18-yard box. Sophomore April Bockin managed to send in her penalty shot just outside the reach of KU goalkeeper Maddie Dobyns to give her team a 2-0 margin with just over 20 minutes to play.
New life was breathed into the home side just seven minutes later when, this time, the Jayhawks were on the right side of penalty kick call. Trying to corral a loose ball inside the KU box following a corner kick, Jackie Georgoulis was fouled and earned her team a free look at goal. Sophomore Grace Hagan was called upon to take the penalty, which she slotted home to cut the Minnesota lead in half.
Kansas continued to press and came painfully close to knocking in the equalizer on several occasions over the final 15 minutes of action. The Jayhawks earned a pair of corner kicks in the last 90 seconds of play but, once again, could not find the back of the net.
The final whistle sounded moments later and signaled KU’s first season-opening home loss in five years.
KU ended the match outshooting the visitors 22-11, however only three of the Jayhawk attempts were put on frame. Hagan and freshman Mandi Duggan led the KU charge with four shots apiece, while they were joined by 14 teammates who posted at least one shot.
Dobyns made two key saves in the second half for KU, but earned the loss, allowing more than one goal in a match for just the sixth time in her three-year career.
Kansas will return to the pitch at Rock Chalk Park on Sunday, August 21 when they welcome in the Marquette Golden Eagles. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m., and will be televised on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel and ESPN3.
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