Jayhawks set for Round of 32 and No. 1 seed North Carolina
Juniors Katie McClure and Addisyn Merrick
|Game 21: vs. North Carolina|
|WakeMed Soccer Park|
|Shot on Goal %||.359||.453|
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Coming off a thrilling double overtime win over Saint Louis last Friday, the University of Kansas soccer team is set to continue NCAA Tournament play against No. 1-seed North Carolina on Friday, Nov. 16. The Jayhawks will meet the Tar Heels in the second-round match set for 4 p.m. (CT), in Cary, N.C. at WakeMed Soccer Park. KU will meet the NCAA’s all-time winningest DI program for the second time in three seasons in the match that will be streamed on ACC Network Extra.
- The Jayhawks are 6-7-0 now in their eighth appearance in the NCAA Tournament, which includes KU advancing past the first round on five of those occasions. Kansas topped Saint Louis, 2-1, in double overtime in the first round last week in Lawrence.
- Kansas and North Carolina will meet for the second time Friday, both occasions coming in the second round in the NCAA Tournament. In 2016, the Tar Heels topped the Jayhawks in Chapel Hill, scoring twice in the second half to claim the 2-0 victory.
- Three Jayhawks saw their name called when the All-Big 12 postseason awards were announced last week. Senior Grace Hagan was a First Team selection, while junior Katie McClure was a Second Team honoree. Freshman goalkeeper Sarah Peters earned a spot on the All-Freshman team.
- With her assist in KU’s win at WVU on Oct. 25, senior Grace Hagan became just the second Jayhawk in program history to amass 25+ goals and 15+ assists in a career. Her 25 career goals rank fifth in KU history and her 16 assists rank ninth. Caroline Smith (2002-05) is the only other Jayhawk to achieve the feat with 51 goals and 24 assists.
- KU’s nine shutouts are the third-most in a season by a Jayhawk squad. The KU defense as posted four shutout streaks of 200 minutes or longer this season, which includes its current stretch of 216 minutes since it last conceded an opponent goal.
- Kansas has played in nine overtime matches this season – a program record – and has picked up five victories in those nine extra time games, also a school record. KU is 5-1-3 in overtime this season.
- The Jayhawks are 3-3-3 in matches away from Rock Chalk Park this season. Since 2014, KU is 24-20-10 in road and neutral matches.
ABOUT THE JAYHAWKS
Kansas (12-5-3, 5-4-0 Big 12) enters the second round of the NCAA Tournament in the midst of a three-match unbeaten streak. The Jayhawks topped then-No. 13 West Virginia in Morgantown on Oct. 25, playing then-No. 17 Texas to a 0-0 draw in the Big 12 Championship quarterfinals on Oct. 28, eventually falling on penalties and topped Saint Louis in the first round of the NCAA tournament last week in Lawrence, 2-1.
The Jayhawk offense has enjoyed a solid to 2018 thus far, having only been shut out four times and scoring multiple goals in eight of its matches. KU averaged 15.1 shots in its 20 matches. Six different Jayhawks have tallied 20 or more shots this season and 11 different players have posted a goal or an assist. KU forwards Katie McClure and Grace Hagan have combined for 17 of the Jayhawks’ 27 goals, scoring 10 and seven, respectively.
The KU defense has held its opponent to a goal or less in 14 of its 20 outings this season which included nine shutouts. KU is holding opponents to 9.1 shots per match and less than four shots on goal per match. Freshman Sarah Peters was the starting keeper in all 20 contests, keeping a clean sheet in nine of those appearances and has collected 54 saves for a .740 save percentage.
LAST TIME OUT
Three minutes into double overtime, Kansas junior Katie McClure kicked the Jayhawks past Saint Louis and into the second round of the NCAA Tournament in a thrilling finish Nov. 9 at Rock Chalk Park. McClure’s golden goal in the 104th minute gave her team a 2-1 win over the Billikens and booked Kansas its second trip to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in three seasons.
Kansas broke open the scoring just under 19 minutes into the opening frame when Elise Reina played a cross toward the far post of the SLU goal. That is where McClure beat her defender and redirected the ball into the back of the net to put the Jayhawks on top, 1-0.
The Billikens, who hadn’t suffered a loss since the two team’s last meeting on Sept. 14, weren’t about to lay down without a fight however. Fifteen minutes after Kansas opened the scoring, SLU leading scorer Maddie Pokorny got in behind the Jayhawk defense and slotted home her 13th goal of the season. The 1-1 score line is where the match would remain after 90 minutes of regulation.
After a hard-fought 13 minutes of overtime, Kansas was finally able to break the SLU defense. Ceri Holland played a free kick from just outside the SLU penalty area to senior Grace Hagan, who met the service in the heart of the 18-yard box and headed the ball toward the left post. That is where McClure got her foot on it and sent it across the line to give KU the win and a spot in next week’s second round.
ABOUT THE TAR HEELS
North Carolina (18-3-1, 10-0-0 ACC), the winningest program in the history of NCAA DI Women’s Soccer, enters Friday’s match with just one loss in its last 14 outings. This after starting the year with five victories in its first eight contests. The Tar Heels claimed the ACC regular-season title, completing the league schedule undefeated and untied, the first time Carolina has accomplished that feat since 2006.
The North Carolina offense has been strong in 2018, especially over its last 11 outings. In those 11 matches the Tar Heels scored two or more goals eight times and posted 15 or more shots on six occasions. On the year, UNC is posting 18 shots per game and is scoring on over 12 percent of those attempts. North Carolina has also managed to put over 45 percent of those 18 shots per game on target. ACC Offensive Player of the Year Alessia Russo leads the team with six goals and is one of 10 Tar Heels who have netted three goals or more.
The UNC defense has been even more stellar than its offense, having conceded just 11 opponent goals in over 2,000 minutes of play, which includes seven shutouts in its last eight outings. Tar Heel opponents are averaging 6.9 shots per match but are putting 35 percent of those attempts on frame. North Carolina senior goalkeeper Samantha Leshnak has started in 16 of her team’s 22 matches. Leshnak has amassed a goals-against average of 0.34, a save percentage of .839 and has tallied 26 saves and six solo shutouts.
Anson Dorrance is in his 40th season as the head coach of the North Carolina women’s soccer program. In his 39-plus seasons with the Tar Heels, Dorrance has amassed an 844-73-39 record and collected 21 NCAA Tournament titles.
The Kansas Jayhawks are making their eighth appearance in the NCAA Championship this year and their fifth trip to the round of 32. Friday when they journey to take on North Carolina. Kansas is 6-7 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 is making its first appearance in the Big Dance since 2016. That year KU welcomed Missouri for the third of the programs’ two NCAA meetings for the first-round game played at Rock Chalk Park. KU’s Louis Heuchan scored the golden goal in the second overtime to hand the Jayhawks a 1-0 win against their border rivals.
While just under three-quarters of the Jayhawk roster is enjoying its first experience in the NCAA Tournament, the Kansas roster features several veterans who have notched tourney action. Senior Grace Hagan and juniors Katie McClure, Addisyn Merrick and Regan Gibbs all started in KU’s last NCAA Tournament appearance in 2016, a 2-0 second-round loss to North Carolina in 2016. Merrick and Gibbs saw action in all 90 minutes of the match, with Hagan and McClure posted 82 and 68-minute outings, respectively. Current Jayhawks Anna Courtney, Eva Eliasdottir and Mandi Duggan came off the bench in both KU’s 2016 NCAA Tournament matches.
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 SAINT LOUIS
- The Jayhawks’ win over Saint Louis Friday 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 third in KU’s NCAA Tournament history that went to extra time as well as its second overtime victory in tournament play.
- The Kansas-Saint Louis match was one of four first-round games that were decided in overtime and one of three that was decided in double OT.
- The Jayhawks handed the Billikens its first loss since mid-September, ending SLU’s 14-match winning streak.
- Kansas hosted its sixth NCAA Tournament game in Lawrence. The Jayhawks are now 3-3-0 in those six matches.
As Kansas heads back on the road this weekend, 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’ match at West Virginia on Oct. 25, KU has played 46 regular-season games away from Rock Chalk Park since the start of the 2014 season, amassing a record of 24-20-10, which includes a 3-3-3 record this year. KU has posted a .500 record or better in road/neutral matches every year since 2014.
LATE MATCH MAGIC
The Jayhawks have been clutch in crunch time during the 2018 campaign. Twelve of the Jayhawks’ 27 goals scored thus far have come in the 60th minute or later. That number includes nine goals Kansas has tallied in the final 10 minutes of regulation or in overtime.
The Jayhawks have come out on top in seven of those matches that have seen Kansas score in the 80th minute or later. KU has netted five golden goals already in 2018, four off the boot of junior forward Katie McClure and one from junior defender Eva Eliasdottir in KU’s 2-1 win over TCU (10/12). McClure scored overtime game-winners against Utah (8/31), Oklahoma (9/21), West Virginia (10/25) and Saint Louis (11/9), which are included in her seven game-winners this season. Those seven game-winning strikes rank her first among Big 12 players and are tied for the most by a Jayhawk in school history.
McClure and Eliasdottir’s golden goals have given Kansas five victories that have come by way of an overtime this season, which marks the most in school history. The the extra time win at West Virginia on Oct. 25, the 2018 squad passed the group from 2015 for the program record for overtime wins in a season with four.
The winner of the KU-UNC contest will play the winner of the Virginia Tech-Arkansas match on Sunday, Nov. 18 in Cary in the third round of the NCAA Tournament. Kickoff from WakeMed Soccer Park is scheduled for 12 p.m. (CT) and will be televised on ACC Network Extra.
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