Jayhawks fall to No. 1 seed North Carolina, 4-1
CARY, N.C. – A strong first half by the third-ranked team in the nation proved to be too much for the Kansas Jayhawks to overcome as the No. 1-seed North Carolina Tar Heels defeated KU, 4-1, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Friday night at WakeMed Soccer Park. The Tar Heels scored three times in the opening 45 minutes to help them advance past KU and into to the Sweet 16 for the second time in three years.
The loss ended the Jayhawks’ 2018 campaign with a 12-6-3 record, while the Tar Heels advanced to the Sweet 16 with their record of 19-3-1.
The Tar Heels did something that every Jayhawk opponent had failed to do in 2018 – score within the first 15 minutes of the match. A cross into the heart of the Jayhawk box found the head of UNC’s Brianna Pinto, who found the back of the KU net in the 12th minute to give her team the early advantage.
Kansas settled in the rest of the half and managed to slow the UNC momentum, that is until the final five minutes of the frame. The Tar Heels struck twice in the four minutes before the intermission, the first off a corner kick and the second on a breakaway, to send the Tar Heels into the locker room with a 3-0 advantage.
Content with its three-goal advantage, the North Carolina defense tightened up the match in the second half to make it even more difficult for the Jayhawks to put together attacks and a potential second-half comeback. With KU sending numbers forward in the 66th minute, the Tar Heels caught KU on a counter attack and added a fourth goal, a second for UNC’s Rachael Dorwart.
The Jayhawks’ Katie McClure added the lone KU goal late. The junior connected with her senior teammate Grace Hagan for the final time after the senior played a long pass down the right side of the field. McClure ran on to the ball and beat the lone UNC defender before slotting home her 11th of the year. The assist marked Hagan’s fifth of the season and the 17 of her career.
The match came to a close just over eight minutes later as the Tar Heels wrapped up the 4-1 win. UNC ended the contest with an 18-7 advantage in shots and an 8-2 edge in shots on target. The Tar Heels also managed eight corner kicks to the Jayhawks’ two.
Head coach Mark Francis
On the result:
“I was proud of our kids and the way we battled but that’s a very good team (UNC). We got beat by a better team, there’s no doubt, but I’m disappointed in the result, in terms of the two goals we gave up in the first half. If we could’ve avoided that and kept it close for longer, maybe it’s a different sorry. But at the end of the day, they converted the opportunities they had and we didn’t. We lost to a better team tonight.”
His thoughts on the team and the season:
“It’s been a tremendous group of kids. It’s been a fun group to coach. I think our senior class deserves a lot of credit, they really led the way the last few years and really established the culture that we have on the team. The challenge to the underclassmen is to now to continue what they’ve started. Just a tremendous group of kids.”
- North Carolina’s goal in the 12th minute marked the earlies by a KU opponent this season. Prior to the strike, the Jayhawks had only allowed three goals in the first 20 minutes of a match in 2018.
- The loss dropped Kansas to 1-4-0 all-time in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
- The four goals conceded marked the most by the Jayhawks this season and the most since KU allowed five goals against Texas A&M on Sept. 10, 2017
- Katie McClure scored her 11th goal of the year, marking fifth-most by a Jayhawk in a single season.
- Grace Hagan’s assist, the 17th of her career, closed out her KU career with 67 points (25 goals, 17 assists), the sixth-most by a Jayhawk.
- The KU season comes to a close with 12 wins, marking the eighth time in the last 11 years the Jayhawks have won 10 games or more.
Kansas will now look forward to the much anticipated 2019 season, which is expected to see the return of 20 members of this year’s squad as well as an impressive incoming freshman class. The Jayhawks will take part in a spring exhibition season before kicking off the program’s 25th season in August of 2019.