Jayhawks look to rebound Sunday against the Chippewas

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Senior midfielder Hannah Lukinac 

 Game 2: vs. Central Michigan
  Aug. 20
  1 p.m.
  Rock Chalk Park (2,500)
  Live Stats
  Game Notes


 Stats KU CMU
 Record 0-1-0 0-0-1
 Goals/GM 0.00 1.00
 Shots/GM 8.0 23.0
 Shot % .000 .043
 Shot on Goal % .250 .391
 Goals Allowed/GM 3.00 1.00
 Saves/GM 5.0 8.0
 Save % .625 .889
 Fouls/GM 9.0 1.0
 Yellows/Reds 1/0 0/0

 LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas soccer team will attempt to pick up its first win of the young 2017 campaign when they host Central Michigan Sunday afternoon. The Jayhawks will take on the Chippewas at Rock Chalk Park in a 1 p.m., first touch. The match will follow the Nebraska-Tulsa contest to begin at 10 a.m., and will be streamed live on KUAthletics.com.
Kansas looks to rebound following its worst loss in two years after Nebraska defeated the Jayhawks on opening night, 3-0. KU returns 17 letterwinners and six starters from the 2016 squad which went 11-6-4, finished second in the Big 12 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008. Mark Francis is entering his 19th season at the helm in Lawrence and holds a 199-148-28 record with the Jayhawks and is second among active Big 12 coaches with 223 career coaching victories.
The Jayhawk offense will be looking to fill the void left by six outgoing seniors who logged substantial minutes for KU over the last two seasons. Junior Grace Hagan is Kansas’ top returning scorer after tallying seven goals and four assists during her sophomore campaign. Hagan is one of 30 women to be named to the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List. Sophomore Katie McClure was the team’s second-leading scorer last year and returns after beginning named to the Big 12 All-Freshman Team in 2016. The 2017 KU roster features seven other players who tallied a goal and/or an assist last season.
The KU defense is again to be expected to be stout this year, with the return of three of last season’s starters as well as several talented reserves. In 21 matches last year the Jayhawks boasted a goals-against average of 0.85 and held opponents to 12 shots per game during that span. Kansas will once again carry three keepers on the 2017 roster and all seem fit for the starting role. Senior Maddie Dobyns was the regular starter for the Jayhawks last season while sophomore Regan Gibbs tallied four starts. Together, the two keepers combined for 72 saves, a save percentage of .791 and six shutouts.
Head coach Mark Francis heads into Sunday’s match just one win shy of 200 for his Kansas coaching career. He has amassed a record of 199-148-28 over his 19-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.
Central Michigan opened its season Friday night in the first game of the Rock Chalk Classic in Lawrence, playing to a 1-1 draw against Tulsa. The Chippewas entered the 2017 campaign after posting a 15-3-3 record and finished third in the MAC at 6-2-3 in 2016. CMU returns 12 letterwinners from that team, including junior Lexi Pelafas, who is one of 30 DI players to be named to the preseason watch list for the MAC Hermann Trophy.
Pelefas’ return bodes well for the Chippewas, who had a stellar year on the offensive side of the ball in 2016, as the team netted 34 goals. Last season CMU scored 1.6 goals per game and managed to put over 47 percent of their total shots on frame. Pelefas is the squad’s top returning scorer after netting 16 goals in 2016.
Central Michigan was stout on the defensive side of the ball a year ago, allowing less than one goal per game (0.82 GAA) and held opponents to just 12.8 shots per match. CMU also shutout nine of its opponents in 2016 which included seven clean sheets in their first 13 outings. In goal, junior Zoie Reed is the team’s lone returning keeper. Last year, she saw action in two matches, playing a total of 42 minutes.
Peter McGahey is starting his fifth season as the head coach at Central Michigan. McGahey has guided the Chippewas to a 35-35-10 record during his time in Mount Pleasant. McGahey came to CMU after a highly successful five-year run at Minnesota State, where his teams finished a combined 74-21-13 (.755 win percentage) and appeared in the NCAA Division II Tournament four times.
Rock Chalk Park is a welcome site as KU is coming off a successful three-year stint playing on its home turf. The Jayhawks are 19-8-2 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.
In Mark Francis’ first 18 years as the KU head coach, his teams are 11-7-1 in their first home games of the regular season, which includes just three losses in those matches since the 2008 season.
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).
Kansas junior Grace Hagan was one of 30 women in Division I NCAA soccer to be selected to the Watch List for the Missouri Athletic Club’s (MAC) Hermann Trophy, which is awarded to the nation’s most valuable collegiate soccer player every season.
Hagan, who hails from Wichita, Kansas, enters this season coming off a stellar sophomore campaign in 2016. An honoree on the NSCAA All-Central Region First Team, Hagan scored a team-high seven goals and added four assists to combine for 18 total points on the year, the fifth-most in the Big 12 Conference. She was also selected to the All-Big 12 First Team. She added a pair of game-winning goals on the year and helped the Jayhawks to their best conference finish in over a decade, finishing 5-1-2 in league play and aided Kansas to the program’s seventh NCAA Tournament appearance. Hagan is six goals shy from moving into the top-10 of Kansas’ all-time goal scorers list.
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.
The 2017 Jayhawks will try 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.
The Jayhawks 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 campaign, the Kansas soccer team scored at least one goal in 69 matches. The Jayhawks’ record in those matches: 53-8-8. Kansas won or tied all but eight matches in which it scored, including a 25-4-1 record in those instances during the 2014 and 2015 seasons, and a 10-1-4 record last year.
Over its past 103 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 103-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 50-1-5 in those games, which included a 10-0-2 mark last season. The Jayhawks’ win over Missouri on Nov. 13 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament marked their 45th-consecutive unbeaten match when they have 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 victory for the Jayhawks in that same 103-game span when finding itself trailing 1-0 at any point in a match. The Jayhawks are now 3-38-3 in those games over the last four seasons, which included all six of the Jayhawks’ losses and two of their draws in 2016.
Last season, the Jayhawks once again proved to be a stout defensive team. Kansas boasted a goals-against average of 0.85, which included six shutouts. The Jayhawks allowed just 12 opponent shots per match, which included eight games when KU opponents sent in 10 or fewer attempts. Over their last 63 matches (dating back to the start of the 2014 season), the Jayhawks shutout 20 opponents and boasted a goals-against average of 0.93. Kansas conceded 61 opponent goals in that span and allowed one opponent goal or less in 21 of its last 25 matches.
KU also turned in an impressive shutout streak in 2016. 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.
The Jayhawks will hit the road for the first time this year when they journey to take on the Tulsa Hurricane. Kansas and TU will kick off on Friday, Aug. 25 at 7 p.m.

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