Jayhawks head to Manhattan for Dillons Sunflower Showdown
Junior Addisyn Merrick
|Game 13: at Kansas State|
|7 p.m. (CT)|
|K-State Soccer Complex (1,100)|
|Shot on Goal %||.364||.471|
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The second soccer edition of the Dillons Sunflower Showdown is on tap for Friday, Oct. 5 as in-state rivals Kansas and Kansas State meet in Manhattan. The Jayhawks and Wildcats will kick off from K-State Soccer Complex at 7 p.m., on ESPN3.
- Kansas was slotted at No. 25 in this week’s Rating Percentage Index (RPI) released by the NCAA this week. The Jayhawks join a strong showing by the Big 12, which is the nation’s No. 2 RPI conference and features six squads inside the top-25.
- Nine of the Jayhawks’ 18 goals scored this season have come in the 60th minute or later. That number includes six goals Kansas has tallied in the final 10 minutes of regulation or in overtime.
- Over the first half of her junior year forward Katie McClure has notched six goals and three assists, and has already twice been named the Big 12’s Offensive Player of the Week. Her 15 points are tied for second in the league.
- Goalkeeper Sarah Peters’ six shutouts are the most ever by a Jayhawk freshman goalkeeper in a single season. The program record for single-season shutouts belongs to Meghan Miller, who tallied 11 clean sheets during her senior season in 2004.
- Kansas is currently navigating through the 54th-toughest schedule in the NCAA. The Jayhawks have played or will play 11 teams that are ranked 56th or better in this week’s RPI.
- The KU defense has amassed a goals-against average of 0.78 after its first 12 outings, a number that ranks the Jayhawks fifth in the Big 12 and 47th in the NCAA.
- Staying on defense, the KU back line has held its first 12 opponents to an average of 7.1 shots per game, which includes seven matches when the Jayhawks conceded seven or fewer shots.
- Head coach Mark Francis is just two victories shy from claiming No. 250 in his collegiate head coaching career. Francis boasts a career record of 248-184-34 in 23 seasons at the NCAA DI level, with 215 of his wins coming at KU.
ABOUT THE JAYHAWKS
Kansas, receiving votes in the latest United Soccer Coaches’ poll, is coming off a 1-0 home win over Iowa State on Sept. 29. The Jayhawks began the season going unbeaten in their first eight outings, but have tallied just three victories in their six most recent matches, but with losses to a pair of teams currently ranked in the top-13 of the national rankings.
The Jayhawk offense has enjoyed a solid to 2018 thus far, averaging over 15 shots in its first 12 matches, and averaging nearly six of those shots on target per match. Seven different Jayhawks have tallied double-digit shots this season and 11 different players have posted a goal or an assist. KU forwards Katie McClure and Grace Hagan have combined for 10 of the Jayhawks’ 18 goals, netting six and four, respectively.
The KU defense got out to an impressive start to the season, allowing just two goals in its first seven matches and notching five shutouts. However in their next five contests, the Jayhawks have conceded eight goals and have tallied one clean sheet. KU is holding opponents to 7.1 shots per match and less than three shots on goal per match. Freshman Sarah Peters was the starting keeper in all 12 contests, keeping a clean sheet in six of those appearances and has collected 23 saves for a .697 save percentage.
LAST TIME OUT
Another goal in the waning moments of the match lifted the Kansas Jayhawks to a 1-0 victory over the Iowa State Cyclones Sept. 29 inside Rock Chalk Park. Sophomore midfielder Ceri Holland netted the first of the year in the 82nd minute to hand her team its eighth win of the year.
The first 45 minutes of action were played a snail’s pace, with neither squad managing much in the way of offense. The two teams combined for only six shots and nearly matched one another in every other statistical category. Kansas doubled up on Iowa State in the shots column in the first stanza, 4-2.
Kansas picked up the pace in the second half, doubling its first-half offensive output within the first 10 minutes after the restart. Kansas tallied 13 shots overall in the final 45 minutes and eight of those, came during the early minutes of the second frame.
As it appeared the Jayhawks were destined for their fifth overtime of the season, Holland saved the day with just eight minutes left in regulation. Senior forward Grace Hagan connected a pass to her sophomore teammate at the top of the Iowa State box, where she needed just one swift kick to send in her first goal of 2018 and the second of her Kansas career. The helper marked Hagan’s second assist of her senior season and 14th of her three-plus years donning the Crimson and Blue.
ABOUT THE WILDCATS
Located in Manhattan, Kansas with an enrollment of 22,795, Kansas State enters Friday’s match with a 4-6-2 record in its third season as a program. K-State returned 16 letterwinners and 10 starters from 2017, which saw the Wildcats finish with a record of 6-11-1.
The KSU offense has been up and down in 2018, scoring multiple goals in three of its contests, however also enduring six shutouts. K-State is posting 15.6 shots per game and is scoring on just over six percent of those attempts. The Wildcats have also managed to put 47 percent of those 15.6 shots per game on target. Junior Katie Cramer and sophomore Brookelynn Entz lead the team with two goals on the year and are joined by eight of their teammates who have notched at least one goal in 2018.
The Kansas State defense has conceded 14 goals this season, however eight of those have come in the last three contests. Wildcat opponents are averaging nearly 16 shots per match and are putting 40 percent of those attempts on frame. Sophomore goalkeeper Emma Malsy has played all but 20 minutes this season in goal for KSU. In her 12 outings she has collected 59 saves and has amassed a goals-against average of 1.06.
Mike Dibbini enters his third official season at the helm of K-State women’s soccer in the 2018 season after being hired in December of 2014 as Kansas State’s first women’s soccer coach. He has led the Wildcats to a 14-26-6 record.
NO GAMES OFF
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 2018 schedule, which is currently sits as the 54th-toughest in all of NCAA DI, features eight teams that competed in the NCAA Tournament a year ago as well as four reigning conference champions. The Jayhawks, sitting at 8-2-2 after their first 12 games of the season, have played or will play six 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-16.
The Jayhawks have already played four top-25 teams over the first six weeks of the season, which included two wins over ranked squads (No. 18 Pepperdine and No. 25 Butler). 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 five teams that are ranked or receiving votes in the Coaches’ poll and that includes No. 13 Texas, No. 16 West Virginia, No. 21 Oklahoma State and No. 24 Baylor. The Big 12’s winning percentage, 64.1 percent, after the first seven weeks of the season ranks fourth out of the 31 DI conferences.
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. Eleven different Jayhawks have had their hand in at least one of the team’s goals thus far in 2018, either scoring or assisting. A total of seven players have managed to tally double-digit shots which includes four players who have posted 22 or more attempts.
This is a trend that has been carried over from last year’s squad which was also an unselfish bunch, as eight different players managed to post double-figure shots and 13 Jayhawks tallied at least one goal or assist in 2017.
LATE MATCH MAGIC
The Jayhawks have been clutch in crunch time during the first half of the 2018 campaign. Nine of the Jayhawks’ 18 goals scored thus far have come in the 60th minute or later. That number includes six goals Kansas has tallied in the final 10 minutes of regulation or in overtime.
The Jayhawks have come out on top in four of those matches that have seen Kansas score in the 80th minute or later. KU has netted a pair of golden goals already in 2018, both off the boot of junior forward Katie McClure. McClure scored overtime game-winners against Utah (8/31) and Oklahoma (9/21), which are included in her four game-winners this season. Those four game-winning strikes rank her first among Big 12 players and are fifth-most be a Jayhawk in school history.
McClure’s two golden goals have given Kansas two victories that have come by way of an overtime this season, which marks the first time the Jayhawks have tallied multiple OT wins in a season since 2015. That 2015 squad holds the program record for overtime wins in a season with three.
FRANCIS APPROACHING 250 COLLEGIATE WINS
With Kansas’ 1-0 win over Iowa State on Sept. 29, Mark Francis claimed his 248th victory as the head coach at the NCAA DI level. He has now amassed a record of 248-184-34 over his 23 years as a collegiate coach. The veteran coach has averaged nearly 11 wins per season during his first 22 years on the sideline. He is currently second among the active Big 12 coaches in career victories behind West Virginia’s Nikki Izzo-Brown.
With the release of the season’s third Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) report by the NCAA this week, several good signs stick out for the Jayhawks. Kansas checked in at No. 25 on the list that takes numerous factors into account including strength of schedule, record against top-50 teams and home versus road record. The ranking marked the third-straight week the Jayhawks found themselves in the top-25 after being slotted at No. 17 last week.
This week’s report shows that the Big 12 is one of the nation’s toughest conference. The league was listed as the nation’s No. 2 conference with this week’s RPI boasting six of its 10 teams inside the top-25. The conference’s high ranking also means the Jayhawks will get plenty of chances to up their national standing as four of their final five regular-season contests will be against teams currently ranked inside the top-70 of the RPI.
With four of their final six regular-season matches on the road, the Jayhawks will look to continue their trend of relatively strong performances in matches away from Rock Chalk Park in the recent years. Kansas can hang its hat on an impressive record in road games over the past four years. Including the Jayhawks’ draw at Cincinnati on Sept. 6, KU has played 41 regular-season games away from Rock Chalk Park since the start of the 2014 season, amassing a record of 20-13-8, which included a 4-4-2 record last year. KU has posted a .500 record or better in regular-season road or neutral matches every year since 2014.
HOT START HAWKS
The impressive early performance in the 2018 campaign puts this year’s Jayhawk squad among just a few other Kansas teams that have gotten their seasons off to a fast start. This bunch joined two other KU teams that suffered one or fewer losses over the first 10 games of the season (2014 and 2004).
The Jayhawks’ early success bodes well for the bunch, as each of those past two KU teams went on to make the NCAA Tournament and posted 15 or more victories. Kansas logged top-three finishes in the final Big 12 standings in both of those years as well.
LET’S GET DEFENSIVE
In their first 12 matches of 2018, the Jayhawks have once again proven to be a stout defensive team, carrying over the trend from their last several seasons. Kansas currently boasts a goals-against average of 0.78 this year, which encompasses six shutouts in those 12 outings. The Jayhawks are allowing just over seven opponent shots per match, which includes seven games that they held their opponents to seven or fewer attempts.
KU has already put together an impressive shutout streak to start this season. Kansas went 354-straight minutes without conceding a goal over its first four matches. The figure is the eighth-longest shutout streak in program history and marked the fourth time over the last five seasons the Jayhawks have tallied an opponent scoreless streak of 300 minutes or longer.
FIRST TO SCORE, WINS GALORE
Dating back to the beginning of the 2012 season, now at 135 games, Kansas has developed an interesting trend when it comes to which team tallies the first goal of the match. During that 135-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 61-2-8 in those games (91.5 winning %), which included a 6-1-2 mark last year and already a 5-0-1 mark in 2018. The Jayhawks’ loss at BYU on Sept. 18 of 2017 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 Oklahoma on Sept. 21 marked just the eighth victory for the Jayhawks in that same 135-game span when finding itself trailing 1-0 at any point in a match. Kansas is now 8-48-4 in those games over the last five seasons, which included eight of KU’s losses and a tie in 2017.
EXPERIENCE VS. YOUTH
The 2018 edition of the Jayhawks is a youthful bunch, with 16 of the 30-woman roster boasting only one season of collegiate experience or less. There are 11 newcomers on this season’s roster, including 10 true freshmen, who the coaches are leaning on to contribute almost immediately. The squad will feature four seniors, two of whom are in their fifth year.
HOME SWEET HOME
Rock Chalk Park has been a welcome site for the Jayhawks this season, with Kansas going 6-1-0 in its first seven outings on its home pitch. Including this year’s hot start, the Jayhawks are 28-13-2 in matches played at home during the regular season since the start of the 2014 campaign. From 2013-14, Kansas also enjoyed an 11-match home winning streak, the longest in program history.
Since moving into Rock Chalk Park, Kansas has built a goal differential of +24 and boasts a goals-against average of 0.90, a number that includes 15 shutouts.
Senior forward Grace Hagan hopes to put an emphatic stamp on an already outstanding career at KU. Last year saw her make headlines across the state, the region and the nation. She kicked off the year beginning named to the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List and ended it on the All-Big 12 Second Team and the All-South Region Third Team. She led the Jayhawks with seven goals, five assists and 19 points, figures that ranked the Wichita product among the top-10 in the Big 12 in their respective categories.
As she works through her senior season, she will be in prime position to make big jumps on some impressive lists, creeping closer to inserting her name among the top offensive players in Jayhawk history. Her 22 career goals currently rank her eighth on Kansas’ all-time goal scorer chart and her 14 career assists also have her at No. 11 on KU’s all-time assists list.
FEEDING ON NONCON
With the nonconference portion of the season in the rear view mirror, the Jayhawks have wrapped up another dominating preconference campaign. This season, KU made it 11-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 43-20-9 mark in its 72 regular-season nonconference matches (66%), which includes a 31-13-6 mark since 2014. In the last six seasons, KU has outscored noncon opponents by a tally of 120-72. Mark Francis has now led KU to a winning record in noncon in 19 of his 20 seasons in Lawrence and is 123-52-13 in regular-season nonconference games.
The Jayhawks will return to Lawrence for the final home stand of the regular season when they go up against a pair of squads out of the Lone Star State. On Friday, Oct. 12, the TCU Horned Frogs will come to Rock Chalk Park for a 7 p.m. match. Two days later the Texas Tech Red Raiders will come to town for a Sunday afternoon battle scheduled for 1 p.m. Both matches will be televised on ESPN+.
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