Jayhawks look to bounce back at BYU Monday
Senior Kayla Morrison
|Game 10: at BYU|
|2 p.m. (CT)|
|South Field (4,200)|
|Shot on Goal %||.508||.373|
PROVO, Utah – Kansas will play a rare Monday match when the Jayhawks head to Provo to take on the BYU Cougars on Monday, Sept. 18. KU, winless in its last three outings, will take on a Cougar squad that has just one win in its first eight games of 2017. The match from South Field is slated to begin at 2 p.m. (CT), and will be streamed live on BYUtv.
ABOUT THE JAYHAWKS
After reeling off a five-game winning streak, Kansas is now facing a three-game winless streak, which includes a 2-1 loss at No. 25 Utah Friday night. The Jayhawks, who are receiving votes in the latest United Soccer Coaches’ Poll, are in the midst of a stretch of five-straight matches away from Rock Chalk Park and have just one loss in its last nine regular-season games played on the road dating back to last season.
The Jayhawk offense has been active in the first half of 2017, having been shutout only once and posting multiple goals in five of their contests. KU has tallied 14 goals and is averaging 13.1 shots per outing. Junior Grace Hagan, a member of the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List, leads the squad with four goals and three assists. She has scored or assisted in six of KU’s last eight matches. Eleven other Jayhawks have tallied at least one goal or an assist, with five of those having already amassed 10 or more shots.
The KU defense has largely been stellar over the first month of the season. Outside of its three losses (0-3 vs. Nebraska, 1-5 vs. Texas A&M and 2-1 at Utah), KU has allowed just two goals in its six other contests, which included an opponent scoreless streak of over 450 minutes. The Jayhawks have also allowed just nine opponent shots or fewer in four of its eight games. Senior Maddie Dobyns was Kansas’ starting keeper in each match. She has collected 34 saves and amassed a save percentage of .791. The senior has also tallied four shutouts in nine games and has amassed a goals-against average of 1.03.
In its four road matches this season, the Jayhawks have continued their trend of 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 three-plus seasons. The Jayhawks’ loss to Utah Friday night marked the first losing result in their last last nine regular-season road games, the longest such streak in program history. KU has played 32 regular-season road games since the start of the 2014 season, amassing a record of 16-11-5, which included a 4-3-3 record last year and already a 2-1-1 mark this season. The Jayhawks hope they can continue this trend over the next three weekends, with a five-game road stretch upcoming.
ABOUT THE COUGARS
Located in Provo, Utah with an enrollment of 30,243, BYU enters Monday’s match with a 1-4-3 record. The Cougars fell at Arizona in overtime on Friday night, 2-1, their third loss in their last five outings.
BYU’s offense has struggled in its first four weeks of action, being shutout in three matches and scoring only one goal in another four contests. The Cougars have also put only 37 percent of their tries on target. BYU has seen five different players net a goal which includes two, Avery Walker and Madie Mathews, who have each notched two goals. Nadia Gomes leads the team with 24 shots.
The Cougar defense has been up and down over its opening eight matches, posting a pair of shutouts but another three games with two or more goals allowed. BYU opponents have averaged just over 13 shots per game and just over five shots on goal per match. In goal, Hannah Clark has started between the posts for each match. In eight starts, Clark has allowed 11 goals, made 30 saves and amassed a save percentage of .732.
Head coach Jennifer Rockwood is currently in her 23rd year at the helm of the BYU program, having amassed a record of 357-103-41. She is 14th in the NCAA in all-time career victories and fourth in NCAA in active winning percentage. She is also seventh in the NCAA in all-time winning percentage and a two-time WCC Coach of the Year in 2012 and 2014.
LAST TIME OUT
A late push by the Jayhawks to level the match came up short as the Kansas soccer team fell to the 25th-ranked Utah Utes Friday night. Junior Grace Hagan scored her fourth goal of the season with just over two minutes to play to pull her team within a goal, but that’s as close as KU would get, dropping its second-straight match.
Utah struck twice in the first frame, both off of set pieces. The first goal came off a flurry in front of goal following a corner kick in the 18th minute. Utah’s Haylee Cacciacarne knocked in the ball when a header rebounded to her after ricocheting off the post. Fifteen minutes later, a long service into the KU box was headed away from KU’s goalkeeper Maddie Dobyns as she came to corral the pass and right to Ute forward Hailey Skolmoski, who knocked in the shot on the wide open net. After several near goals in the second half, KU finally got a stroke of good luck when a Ute handball in their own box gave the Jayhawks a penalty kick with just over two minutes to play in the match. Hagan stepped to the spot and slotted it home to cut the deficit in half and give her team a glimmer of hope as it headed into the final minute of regulation.
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 5-3-1 after their first nine games of the season, have played or will play nine teams that are ranked or receiving votes in the most recent United Soccer Coaches’ top-25 poll. This number includes Utah (No. 25) and BYU (receiving votes), both squads Kansas will face this upcoming weekend.
The Jayhawks have already played four top-25 teams over the first four-plus 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 as Big 12 Conference play looms. The conference currently features four teams that are ranked or receiving votes in the Coaches’ poll and that includes No. 6 West Virginia, No. 14 Oklahoma State and No. 21 Texas. The Big 12’s winning percentage, 67.1 percent, after the first eight 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 member of the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List leads the Jayhawks with four goals, three assists and 11 points, figures that also rank the Wichita product among the top-seven in the Big 12 in their respective categories. It’s been evident that when Hagan goes, so go the Jayhawks. Kansas is 4-2-0 this season when Hagan scores or assists.
Hagan is creeping closer to inserting her name among the top offensive players in Jayhawk history. Her 15 career goals currently rank her 12th on Kansas’ all-time goal scorer chart and have her only two 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. Twelve 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 12 players have managed to tally three or more shots and which includes five players who have posted 11 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 will try to make 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 37-18-7 mark in its 62 regular-season nonconference matches (67%), which includes a 25-11-4 mark since 2014. In the last six seasons, KU has outscored noncon opponents by a tally of 104-62. Mark Francis has led KU to a winning record in noncon in 17 of his first 18 seasons in Lawrence and is now 117-50-11 in regular season nonconference games.
LET’S GET DEFENSIVE
The Jayhawks have once again proved to be a stout defensive team this season, carrying over the trend from their last several seasons. In the six matches that it has won or drawn this year, Kansas boasted a goals-against average of 0.32, which included four shutouts. In those games, the Jayhawks allowed less than 10 opponent shots per match, which included four games when KU opponents sent in nine or fewer attempts. Over their last 72 matches (dating back to the start of the 2014 season), the Jayhawks shutout 24 opponents and boast a goals-against average of 0.98. Kansas conceded 73 opponent goals in that span and has allowed one opponent goal or less in 27 of its last 34 matches.
KU has already posted an impressive shutout streak early this season. From Aug. 18-Sept. 3, Kansas went 450-straight minutes without conceding a goal. The figure is the third-longest in school history and marks the fourth time over the last six seasons the Jayhawks have tallied an opponent scoreless streak of 340 minutes or longer.
JUST ONE WILL DO IT
The Jayhawks continue to carry on an impressive trend that has developed over the last five seasons when it comes to scoring. Since the start of the 2012 campaign, the Kansas soccer team scored at least one goal in 76 matches. The Jayhawks’ record in those matches: 58-10-9. Kansas won or tied all but 10 matches in which it scored, including a 26-5-6 record in those instances since the 2015 season, and already a 5-2-1 record this year.
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.
Senior Kayla Morrison has continued an impressive streak into her final year in Lawrence as she has started all 72 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 10 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 2,296 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 112 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 112-game span, the Jayhawks were on the losing end only once in contests which they put in the match’s first goal. Kansas has amassed a record of 55-1-6 in those games, which included a 10-0-2 mark last season and already a 5-0-1 mark this year. The Jayhawks’ draw at Saint Louis on Sept. 8 was their 51st-consecutive unbeaten match 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 on Sept. 23 of last season marked just the third and most recent victory for the Jayhawks in that same 112-game span when finding itself trailing 1-0 at any point in a match. Kansas is now 3-41-3 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 their three losses this season.
MORE ON THE KANSAS UPSET OF USC
The Jayhawks defeat of the defending national champion, USC, was monumental for several reasons. Not only was Kansas able to extend its winning streak to five games, its longest since 2014, but also notched its first victory over a top-10 team since 2012, as the Trojans sat at No. 7 on the day of the match. Here are more notes on the Jayhawks win over the Trojans:
- The win gave Kansas its fifth win all-time against a top-10 ranked opponent and its first against nonconference team at home.
- KU’s last victory over a top-10 team came on Sept. 21, 2012, when the Jayhawks topped No. 7 Oklahoma State, 2-1, in Lawrence.
- Katie McClure’s goal in the 12th minute marked the first time USC had trailed in a match since its final regular-season game of 2016 on Nov. 4. Prior to McClure’s strike, the Trojans went 742-straight minutes without finding themselves behind in a match.
- Kansas was one of three Big 12 schools that tallied unbeaten results against top-12 opponents last weekend. West Virginia beat No. 1 Penn State, 2-1, while Oklahoma State tallied a 2-2 draw against No. 12 Texas A&M.
- The match marked the first time in program history Kansas played a team coming off a national championship the year prior. The Jayhawks would end up playing three of the four College Cup squads during their 2016 season: USC (L, 0-2), West Virginia (L, 0-1) and North Carolina (L, 0-2).
EXPERIENCE VS. YOUTH
The 2017 edition of the Jayhawks will be a youthful bunch, with 16 of the 25-woman roster boasting only one season of collegiate experience or less. There are eight newcomers on this season’s roster, including seven true freshmen, who the coaches are leaning on to contribute almost immediately. The squad will feature five seniors, one of whom is in her fifth year. Four of the five members of the 2017 senior class have played in at least 39 matches.
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.
KU will have just three days to prepare for the Big 12 opener, a Friday night contest against the TCU Horned Frogs in Fort Worth. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m., on FoxSports Southwest. The Jayhawks will then head to West Texas to take on the Texas Tech Red Raiders on Sunday, Sept. 24 for a 1 p.m. first touch.
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