|Click image for NCAA Tournament Bracket
|GM 21: Kansas vs. #2 North Carolina
||Friday, November 18
||5 p.m. Central
||Chapel Hill, N.C.
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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Coming off a thrilling double overtime win over rival Missouri Sunday, the University of Kansas soccer team is set to continue NCAA Tournament play against No. 2-seed North Carolina on Friday, Nov. 18. The Jayhawks will meet the Tar Heels in the second-round match set for 5 p.m. (CT), in Chapel Hill. KU will meet the NCAA’s all-time winningest DI program for the first time in the match that will be streamed on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.
ABOUT THE JAYHAWKS
The Jayhawks (11-5-4, 5-1-2 Big 12) are making their fourth trip to the NCAA Tournament’s second round after topping Missouri, 1-0, in the first round Sunday. The Jayhawks, who have suffered only two losses in their last 11 outings, closed out their regular-season conference slate finishing second on the league table, its highest Big 12 finish since 2004.
The Jayhawk offense has been solid this season, especially in Big 12 play. In its eight league contests, KU averaged 1.5 goals per game, four of in which the Jayhawks netted multiple goals. The Kansas team has been an unselfish one, featuring 10 different Jayhawks with double-digit shots, while 13 players boast a goal or an assist. Sophomore Grace Hagan, an All-Big 12 First Team selection, leads the team with seven goals. Hagan, along with freshman Katie McClure, have combined for nearly a third of the team’s shots, with 99 between the two Wichita natives.
The KU defense has allowed only 17 goals in 2016 and just one in its latest 340 minutes of action. The Jayhawks have held their opponents to an average of just 11.7 shots per game but KU foes have managed to put just over 35 percent of those tries on frame. The KU defense has allowed one opponent goal or fewer in 21 of its last 24 outings dating back to last season. Redshirt freshman Regan Gibbs got the starting nod in goal for KU’s opening-round match against Missouri. In her five outings this season she boasts a goals-against average of 0.76 and has collected 14 saves.
ABOUT THE TAR HEELS
North Carolina (14-3-4, 6-2-2 ACC), the winningest program in the history of NCAA DI Women’s Soccer, enters Friday’s match with just one loss in its last 10 outings. This after starting the year with only six victories in its first 11 contests. The Tar Heels finished fourth in the ACC and advanced to the ACC Tournament final before falling to Florida State via penalty kicks.
The North Carolina offense has been strong in 2016, especially over its last 10 outings. In those 10 matches the Tar Heels scored two or more goals seven times and posted 14 or more shots on five occasions. On the year, UNC is posting 13.0 shots per game and is scoring on over 13 percent of those attempts. North Carolina has also managed to put over 46 percent of those 13.0 shots per game on target. ACC Freshman of the Year Bridgette Andrzejewski leads the team with nine goals and is one of six Tar Heels who have netted three goals or more.
The UNC defense has been even more stellar than its offense, having conceded just 14 opponent goals in nearly 2,000 minutes of play, which includes just two goals in its last seven outings. Tar Heel opponents are averaging 10.4 shots per match but are putting over 43 percent of those attempts on frame. North Carolina senior goalkeeper Lindsey Harris has started in all 21 of her team’s matches. Harris has amassed a goals-against average of 0.66, a save percentage of .846 and has tallied 77 saves and seven solo shutouts.
Anson Dorrance is in his 38th season as the head coach of the North Carolina women’s soccer program. In his 38-plus seasons with the Tar Heels, Dorrance has amassed a 806-66-36 record and collected 21 NCAA Tournament titles.
LAST TIME OUT
Forty seconds into double overtime, Kansas junior Lois Heuchan kicked the Jayhawks past rival Missouri and into the second round of the NCAA Tournament in a thrilling finish Sunday afternoon at Rock Chalk Park. Heuchan’s golden goal in the 101st minute gave her team a 1-0 win over the Tigers and booked Kansas its first trip to the second round of the NCAA Tournament since 2008.
With the two squads playing even for over 100 minutes, it was the Jayhawks that finally broke through off a close-range strike from Heuchan. Sophomore Grace Hagan found space in the right side of the penalty area, where she had enough space to play pin-point pass through a host of defenders to Heuchan, who had taken up residence at the far post. The Castle Douglas, Scotland product corralled the pass, made a player miss, and sent a shot into the side netting to bring the match to an abrupt and cheerful halt.
The goal, the third of the season for Heuchan, pushed the Jayhawks into the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the squad made it past the opening round in 2008.
The Kansas Jayhawks are making their seventh appearance in the NCAA Championship and their fourth trip to the Round of 32 Friday when they journey to play North Carolina for the Second Round match. Kansas is 5-6 all-time in NCAA Tournament games with its best run coming in 2003 when the Jayhawks advanced to the Sweet 16, where they fell to UCLA, 1-0, in Los Angeles. Kansas last reached the second round of the Big Dance in 2008, when it journeyed to Palo Alto, California. The Jayhawks dispatched of Denver in the first round match before falling to No. 1-seeded Stanford, 5-0, in the second round.
FRANCIS EYING WIN NO. 200 AT KANSAS
Head coach Mark Francis is just one win shy of 200 for his Kansas coaching career. He has amassed a record of 199-145-27 over his 18-year stint at Kansas. 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.
While half of the Jayhawk roster is enjoying its first experience in the NCAA Tournament, the Kansas roster features several veterans enter this year’s bracket having already notched tourney action. Seniors Tayler Estrada, Jackie Georgoulis, Morgan Williams and junior Kayla Morrison all started in KU’s last NCAA Tournament game, a 3-1 first-round loss to Missouri in 2014. Estrada and Williams saw action in all 90 minutes of the match, with Estrada posting a pair of shots. Georgoulis played 45 minutes and added an assist in the loss.
The school record for most NCAA Tournament games played belongs to five Jayhawks who played in six tournament games from 2001-04. Monica Brothers, Amy Geha, Stacy Leeper, Gabriela Quiggle and Lauren Williams played on three KU squads that advanced to the Big Dance.
MORE ON KANSAS’ WIN OVER MISSOURI
The Jayhawks’ win over Missouri Sunday was one of the biggest wins the program has seen in some time. Here are more notes on the double-overtime thriller in Rock Chalk Park:
- The contest was the second in KU’s NCAA Tournament history that went to extra time as well as its first overtime victory in tournament play.
- The Kansas-Missouri match was one of three first-round games that were decided in overtime and the only one that was decided in double OT.
- The Jayhawks handed the Tiger offense, which averaged nearly two goals a game in 2016, its sixth shutout of the year.
- Kansas hosted its fifth NCAA Tournament game in Lawrence. The Jayhawks are now 2-3-0 in those five matches.
- The double overtime win was the Jayhawks’ fourth victory in a match that went to two OTs over the last four years. KU is 5-2-9 in matches that went to double OT over the last five seasons. This was the sixth match this year to be decided in double OT or later.
The Kansas soccer team saw its most representatives on the postseason all-conference teams in a decade when the Big 12 announced the awards Oct. 31. Six Jayhawks were honored with sophomore forward Grace Hagan heading up the group with her first team selection. KU boasted a trio on the second team as well as a pair on the All-Freshman squad.
Hagan claimed All-Big 12 First Team honors for the first time in her young KU career, marking the sixth-consecutive season Kansas had at least one Jayhawk on the first team. Senior midfielders Tayler Estrada and Hanna Kallmaier as well as junior defender Kayla Morrison, earned spots on the second team, all for the first time. Jayhawk freshmen Katie McClure and Addisyn Merrick rounded out the KU honorees with their selection on the All-Freshman squad. McClure was a unanimous choice by the league’s coaches.
The announcement means Kansas has had at least one Jayhawk on the All-Big 12 teams each year since the current format began in 2000. The six Jayhawks selected also marked the fifth-straight season three or more KU representatives were selected to the all-conference squads. Selections for the All-Big 12 teams were voted on by the league’s coaches, who were not allowed to vote for their own players.
With the release of the season’s Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) report by the NCAA last week, several good signs stick out for the Jayhawks. Kansas checked in at No. 23 on the list that takes numerous factors into account including strength of schedule, record against top-50 teams and home versus road record.
One area that may be helping Kansas in its climb up the national charts is its strength of schedule. The Jayhawks currently hold the nation’s 16th-toughest schedule, according to the RPI. Ten of KU’s past or future opponents currently find themselves in the top-40 of this week’s index, while a total of 12 are sitting in the top-50.
Last week’s report also ranks the Big 12 as the nation’s toughest conferences. The league, which sits at No. 1 in the conference RPI standings, boasts all nine teams inside the top-80.
Forward Grace Hagan has put together an impressive sophomore campaign. She leads the Jayhawks with seven goals and 18 points, figures that rank the Wichita product among the top-five in the Big 12 in their respective categories. It’s been evident that when Hagan goes, so go the Jayhawks. Kansas is 4-1-3 this season when Hagan scores or assists and is 4-1-2 when Hagan tallies three shots or more. KU opponents may have picked up on this trend as in the 12 instances when Hagan was held to two shots or fewer, the Jayhawks were winners in seven of those contests.
Hagan is on pace for one of the best sophomore seasons in program history. One more goal would make her one of the top-three scoring sophomores ever to don the Crimson and Blue. It was also mark the most goals scored by a Jayhawk sophomore since Emily Cressy shot in 12 during the 2009 campaign.
With any veteran laden team, there are bound to be some impressive career streaks established and the 2016 Jayhawks are no different. One streak that shows the continuity and consistency of this KU crew is the amount of consecutive games started. Nine Jayhawks boast active or career-long stretches of 25-straight matches started or longer. This includes junior Kayla Morrison, whose streak sits at 61-straight starts for Kansas.
Morrison’s mark is already among the longest in program history as it sits fifth on the all-time list among field players. If the Corona, California product is in the starting lineup in Kansas’ second round match of the NCAA Tournament, it would make her one of only five Jayhawks with 63-straight starts or more.
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.
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. Twelve different Jayhawks have had their hand in at least one of the team’s goals thus far in 2016, either scoring or assisting. A total of 12 players have managed to tally 10 or more shots and, while sophomore Grace Hagan and freshman Katie McClure have notched nearly a third of the team’s total shots (99), eight of their teammates have added 15 or more attempts to the team’s total of 324.
This is a trend is an improvement from last year’s squad which was also an unselfish bunch, as 11 different players managed to post double-figure shots and 10 Jayhawks tallied at least one goal or assist in 2015.
LET’S GET DEFENSIVE
With a veteran crew comprising the KU back line this season, the Jayhawks are once again proving to be a stout defensive team. Kansas boasted a goals-against average of 0.80 during the regular season, which includes six shutouts. The Jayhawks are also allowing just 11.7 opponent shots per match, which includes eight games when KU opponents sent in 10 or fewer attempts. Over their last 62 matches (dating back to the start of the 2014 season), the Jayhawks shutout 20 opponents and boasted a goals-against average of 0.91. Kansas has conceded 59 opponent goals in that span and has allowed one opponent goal or less in 21 of its last 24 matches.
Already this season, KU has turned in an impressive shutout streak. KU went 282-straight minutes without conceding a goal from Aug. 19-28. The figure was the 18th-longest in school history and marked the sixth time over the last five seasons the Jayhawks have tallied an opponent scoreless streak of 280 minutes or longer. KU has also conceded just two opponent goals in its last 265 minutes of play, good for a goals-against average of 0.68 during that span.
JUST ONE WILL DO IT
The Jayhawks have continued to carry on an impressive trend that has developed over the last three seasons when it comes to scoring. Since the start of the 2012 season, the Kansas soccer team has scored at least one goal in 69 matches. The Jayhawks’ record in those matches: 53-8-8. Kansas was won or drawn all but eight matches in which it has scored, including a 25-4-1 record in those instances during the 2014 and 2015 seasons, and a 10-1-4 record this year.
FIRST TO SCORE, WINS GALORE
Over its past 102 games, dating back to the beginning of the 2012 season, Kansas has developed an interesting trend when it comes to which team tallies the first goal of the match. During that 102-game span, the Jayhawks have been on the losing end only once in contests which they have put in the match’s first goal. Kansas has amassed a record of 50-1-5 in those games, which included an 8-0-1 mark last year and a 10-0-2 mark so far this season. The Jayhawks’ win over Missouri on Nov. 13 marked their 45th-consecutive unbeaten match when they have scored first.
On the flip side, KU hasn’t been quite as fortunate when its opponents have gotten on the board first. Kansas’ win over Texas Tech on Sept. 23 marked just the third victory for the Jayhawks in that same 102-game span when finding itself trailing 1-0 at any point in a match. The Jayhawks are now 3-37-3 in those games over the last four seasons, which includes all five of the Jayhawks’ losses and two of their draws thus far in 2016.
The winner of the KU-UNC contest will play the winner of the No. 3 seed Clemson-Arkansas match on Sunday, Nov. 20 in Chapel Hill in the third round of the NCAA Tournament. Kickoff from Fetzer Field is scheduled for 12 p.m. (CT) and will be televised on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.
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