Jayhawks set to face Red Raiders Sunday
Senior Kayla Morrison
|Game 12: at Texas Tech|
|John Walker Stadium (1,500)|
|Shot on Goal %||.493||.451|
LUBBOCK, Texas – The Kansas soccer team will try to put an end to its four-game losing streak when the Jayhawks journey to Lubbock, Texas to meet the Texas Tech Red Raiders Sunday. Each of the last five KU-TTU meetings have been decided by one goal. Kick off from John Walker Soccer Complex is set for 1 p.m. and will be streamed live on TexasTech.tv.
ABOUT THE JAYHAWKS
After reeling off a five-game winning streak, Kansas is winless in its five most recent outings, which includes a 1-0 double overtime loss at TCU Friday night. The Jayhawks, who were picked to finish second by the league’s coaches in the Big 12’s preseason poll, are in the midst of a stretch of five-straight matches away from Rock Chalk Park.
Kansas’ offense was active in the first half of 2017, having been shutout only twice and posting multiple goals in six of their contests. KU has tallied 16 goals and is averaging 12.2 shots per outing. Junior Grace Hagan, a member of the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List, leads the squad and the Big 12 with five goals and three assists. She has scored or assisted in seven of KU’s last 10 matches. Eleven other Jayhawks have tallied at least one goal or an assist, with five of those having already amassed 11 or more shots.
The KU defense was stellar over its first six outings of the season, posting an opponent scoreless streak of over 450 minutes in that time. However, over their last five outings, the Jayhawks have let 12 opponent goals in the back of the net. Overall, KU opponents are posting 13.5 shots per match with over 43 percent of those ending up on target. Senior Maddie Dobyns was Kansas’ starting keeper in each match. She has collected 42 saves and amassed a save percentage of .783. The senior has also tallied four shutouts in 11 games and has amassed a goals-against average of 1.19.
A TALE OF TWO SEASONS
After a quick start to the 2017 campaign, the Jayhawks have hit a bit of a rough patch over the last two weeks, and nothing demonstrates this fact better than comparing the team’s first six matches with their five most recent. The team began the year with five victories in its first six outings, while the team that took the field the last five times is winless. The difference in squads over those two periods of the 2017 season is apparent by much more than just looking at wins and losses.
In its first six matches, the Kansas defense was almost unbreakable, conceding only four goals and amassing an opponent scoreless streak of over 450 minutes. KU was allowing only 10 opponent shots per match and only 43 percent of those are ending on goal. Since then though, Kansas’ defense has struggled. In its five most recent games, the Jayhawks allowed 12 goals, which included three matches with multiple shots finding the back of the net. KU opponents have also averaged 17.4 shots per game over the last five outings, a seven shot increase compared to the first half of the season.
ABOUT THE RED RAIDERS
Located in Lubbock, Texas with an enrollment of 35,893, Texas Tech enters Sunday’s match with an 8-2-0 record after its first 10 games. The Red Raiders have won three-straight matches and all four of its games played at home this season. TTU has also conceded one goal or fewer in all but one of its outings in 2017.
The Texas Tech offense has been potent this season, scoring multiple goals in four of its games, which includes both of its two most recent contests. TTU is posting 16.4 shots per game and is scoring on just under 10 percent of those attempts. The Red Raiders have also managed to put over 45 percent of those 16.4 shots per game on target. Freshman forward Ally Griffin leads the team and the league with five goals and has added 33 shots, while sophomore midfielder Jodie Harr is tops on the squad with four assists.
The TTU defense has conceded only six goals this season. Red Raider opponents are averaging only 9.1 shots per match and are putting over just 32 percent of those attempts on frame. Texas Tech has played two keepers so far in 2017 with junior Carissa Christensen and freshman Marissa Zucchetto splitting time. The two have combined for a goals-against average of 0.59, a save percentage of .793 and have tallied 23 saves.
Tom Stone is in his 11th season as the head coach of the TTU women’s soccer program. In his first 10-plus seasons with the Red Raiders, Stone has amassed a 126-69-23 record.
LAST TIME OUT
Playing a woman down for over 40 minutes and seeing itself out-shot 22-6 proved to be too much for Kansas to overcome Friday evening as the Jayhawks were upended by the TCU Horned Frogs, 1-0, in double overtime. TCU sophomore Tara Smith netted the golden goal in the sixth minute of the second overtime period to hand KU its fourth-straight loss.
The situation became dire for the Crimson and Blue after senior Hannah Lukinac was sent off with a red card less than 20 minutes into the second half. A collision between Lukinac and a TCU player at midfield as both were going for a goal kick was deemed to be overly aggressive by the Jayhawk, leaving Kansas one player short for the remainder of the match.
The TCU offense finally broke through as Smith caught up to a loose ball atop the Jayhawk penalty box and sent in a strike that snuck inside the upper left corner of the KU frame. The goal, Smith’s second of the season, brought the match to an immediate end and gave Kansas a loss to start Big 12 play.
The home team ended the match outshooting Kansas by a tally of 22-6, which included six shots on goal to just one for the Jayhawks. Though KU goalkeeper Maddie Dobyns took the loss, she still managed to collect five saves and was forced to defend 11 TCU corner kicks.
MESSIN’ WITH TEXAS
In its first 20 years as a program, the state of Texas proved to be a tough place to play for a host of Jayhawk squads, that is until the 2014 season and forward. Prior to 2014, Kansas amassed an overall record of 11-30-8 in matches played inside the Lone Star State, resulting in a win percentage of just .306. Since the start of 2014 though, the Jayhawks turned that trend on its head, going 8-2-0 inside the Lone Star State. KU’s loss to Texas Tech in Lubbock in 2015 and its loss to TCU Friday night are its only two blemishes in Texas over the last three years.
Regardless of where they are playing, the Jayhawks have been pests to Texas schools over the last three-plus regular seasons. In its 16 games against schools from the state of Texas, KU has amassed a record of 12-4-0, a goal differential of +12 and a goals-against average of 0.70. Kansas will have only one more chance this season to pick up a win inside Texas. KU will journey to Texas Tech on Sunday, Sept. 24, a place it has not claimed a victory since 2011.
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 5-5-1 after their first 11 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.
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. 5 West Virginia, No. 17 Texas and No. 22 Oklahoma State. The Big 12’s winning percentage, 65.3 percent, after the first five 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 five goals, three assists and 13 points, figures that also rank the Wichita product among the top-eight in the Big 12 in their respective categories.
Hagan is creeping closer to inserting her name among the top offensive players in Jayhawk history. Her 16 career goals currently rank her 11th on Kansas’ all-time goal scorer chart and have her only one 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 11 players have managed to tally four 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 made 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 37-19-7 mark in its 63 regular-season nonconference matches (65%), which includes a 25-12-4 mark since 2014. In the last six seasons, KU has outscored noncon opponents by a tally of 106-65. Mark Francis has now led KU to a winning record in noncon in 18 of his 19 seasons in Lawrence and is now 117-51-11 in regular season nonconference games.
Senior Kayla Morrison has continued an impressive streak into her final year in Lawrence as she has started all 74 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 eight 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 2,491 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 114 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 114-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 55-2-6 in those games, which included a 10-0-2 mark last season and already a 5-1-1 mark this year. The Jayhawks’ loss at BYU on Sept. 18 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 Texas Tech on Sept. 23 of last season marked just the third and most recent victory for the Jayhawks in that same 114-game span when finding itself trailing 1-0 at any point in a match. Kansas is now 3-42-3 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 four of their losses this season.
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.
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.
Kansas will play it fifth and final match of a five-game road stretch when the Jayhawks head north to Ames, Iowa to meet the Iowa State Cyclones on Friday, Sept. 29. Kickoff from the Cyclone Soccer Complex is slated for 7 p.m. A week later KU will make its long awaited return to Rock Chalk Park to host the first installment of the Dillons Sunflower Showdown. Kansas State will journey to Lawrence to face Kansas on Oct. 6. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. and will be televised on Spectrum Sports and ESPN3.
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