Jayhawks set to host No. 25 Texas Tech in Big 12 opener

GM 10: Kansas vs. Texas Tech
Date Friday, September 23
Time 7 p.m. Central
Location Lawrence, Kan.
Stadium Rock Chalk Park
Video KUAthletics.com
Radio KJHK 90.7 FM
Audio Jayhawk Radio Network
Stats KUAthletics.com
Twitter @KUWSoccer | #kusoccer
Instagram @KansasSoccer | #kusoccer
Facebook /KansasSoccer | #kusoccer
 W-L-D 5-3-2 7-1-2
 Goals/Gm 1.20 1.50
 Shots/Gm 17.3 16.7
 Shot % .069 .090
 Shot on Goal % .358 .413
 Goals Allowed/Gm 0.90 1.00
 Saves/Gm 3.0 3.9
 Save % .769 .796
 Fouls/Gm 10.5 11.1
 Yellow Cards/Red Cards 6/1 11/1

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas soccer will return to Rock Chalk Park Friday night to kick off conference play when the Jayhawks welcome the 25th-ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders to Lawrence. KU and TTU will meet for the first time since the Red Raiders edged the Jayhawks in the Big 12 Tournament final last November. The match is slated to begin at 7 p.m., and can be streamed at KUAthletics.com.
Kansas enters Big 12 play with a 5-3-2 record after closing out its nonconference portion of the schedule with a 0-1-1 West Coast road swing at USC and Pepperdine. The Jayhawks started the season with just two victories in their first five outings, but have suffered just one defeat in the five matches since, a 2-0 decision to No. 12 USC last weekend.
The Jayhawk offense has gained momentum over the last three weeks, scoring eight goals in its last five outings and averaging 18.0 shots per game in that span. Thirteen different Jayhawks have tallied at least five shots during the first 10 matches, with 10 players boasting a goal or an assist. Sophomore Grace Hagan leads the team with her four goals and 32 shots. Hagan, along with freshman Katie McClure, have combined for nearly a third of the team’s shots, with 53 between the two Wichita natives.
The KU defense has allowed nine goals thus far in 2016. The Jayhawks have held their 10 opponents to an average of just over 10 shots per game and a total of just 39 shots on frame (3.9 per game). The KU defense has allowed one opponent goal or fewer in 14 of its last 16 outings dating back to last season. Redshirt freshman Regan Gibbs has played KU’s last 245 minutes in goal after junior Maddie Dobyns was sidelined with injury. In her 2.5 games as the KU keeper, Gibbs has made 11 saves, allowed three goals and boasts a save percentage of .786.
Texas Tech enters Big 12 action having only suffered one defeat during its first 10 games of 2016. The Red Raiders will conclude a four-match road stint when they play at KU on Friday, having amassed a 2-0-1 record on the trip so far. TTU outscored its opponents 11-3 in its seven victories so far this year.
The Red Raider offense has been potent this season, scoring multiple goals in five of its games and suffering only one shutout. TTU is posting 16.7 shots per game and is scoring on nine percent of those attempts. Texas Tech has also managed to put over 41 percent of those 16.7 shots per game on target.
Freshman Jade King has led the offensive charge so far with three goals and an assist. King’s 4.8 shots per game leads the Big 12.
The TTU defense has conceded 10 goals but has allowed only two in its last four outings. Red Raider opponents are averaging 10.1 shots per match and are putting over 48 percent of those attempts on frame. Senior Lauren Watson has gotten the start in goal in all 10 matches this year. She is boasting a goals-against average of 0.96, a save percentage of .796 and has tallied 39 saves.
Tom Stone is in his 10th season as the head coach of the Texas Tech women’s soccer program. In his first nine-plus seasons with the Red Raiders, Stone amassed a 116-59-23 record for a .644 winning percentage. Stone is the only Texas Tech coach to lead the Red Raiders to the NCAA Tournament, including the team’s first ever trip to the Sweet 16 in 2014.
The Kansas soccer team saw its chances but was unable to net the game-winner as the Jayhawks settled for a 1-1 tie with the No. 25 Pepperdine Waves Sept. 23 in Malibu, California. Sophomore Grace Hagan netted her fourth goal of the season while the Jayhawks turned in a season-high 23 shots.
In the 17th minute, senior defender Aurélie Gagnet played a ball into the heart of the Pepperdine penalty area which gave the Wave defense problems. A Pepperdine defender played a poor clearance right to the feet of Hagan, who took a quick flick and sent in the first goal of the match. The goal was the fourth of the season for the Wichita, Kansas product and marked the fourth match in her last five outings with a goal or an assist. Pepperdine senior Taylor Alvarado pulled her team level 20 minutes later with a curling shot from the left corner of the KU box.
The second half was a back-and-forth affair with KU seeing several chances to retake the lead. KU outshot the home side 11-7 over the second 45 minutes and saw seven corner kick opportunities, but still couldn’t find the back of the net.
After neither squad could put in the game-winner in the second overtime period, the Jayhawks were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw, their second of the season.
In the 17 years Mark Francis has coached at Kansas, the Jayhawks have seen some success in the opening weekends of conference play. Kansas has amassed a record of 10-6-1 (.618) in Big 12 home openers under Francis, an over 12 percent increase from its overall conference winning percentage of .490 since 1999. The Jayhawks hold a record of 1-6-2 (.167) in Big 12 openers played on the road. Under Francis, Kansas is 6-9-2 in all Big 12 opening matches. Last season, Kansas opened its conference slate with a 2-1 loss to Texas.
With the Jayhawks currently boasting a 39-match unbeaten streak in games they score first, it’s important for Kansas to look to get on the board early. The 2016 squad has done just that, with eight of Kansas’ 12 goals coming in the first half and five of those netted in the first 20 minutes of action. Katie McClure’s eventual game-winner against UMKC on Sept. 11, which came just 2:46 into the match, sits as the earliest KU strike so far this season.
This is almost a complete reversal when comparing to the KU squad from a year ago. The 2015 Jayhawks scored 16 of their 24 goals in the second half or later, nine of which came after the 75th minute. Last year’s squad also netted just two goals within the opening 20 minutes of a match.
With the first half of the regular season in the books, the Jayhawks have worked their way to near the top of NCAA ranks in an important statistical category, corner kicks. Kansas is earning 7.6 corners per match in its 10 outings this season, a figure that leads the Big 12 and has been topped by only four other teams in the NCAA. The Jayhawks have earned 10 or more corners in three matches this season, and fewer than six on only one occasion.
If the Jayhawks continue this pace for the remainder of the season, they would finish the regular season with around 140 corners. That mark would top the program record of 128 set in 2005. Last year, Kansas broke the 100-corner mark for the first time since that record year in 2005, and appear primed to achieve that milestone again this season.
On the flip side, Jayhawk opponents are earning only 3.3 corner kicks per match, the third fewest among Big 12 teams this year.
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. Five Jayhawks currently boast active stretches of 25-straight matches started or longer, which includes junior Kayla Morrison, whose streak sits at 52-straight starts for the Jayhawks.
Morrison’s mark is already among the longest in program history as it’s 11th 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 eighth on that list with 60-straight starts.
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.
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. Ten 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 13 players have managed to tally five or more shots and, while sophomore Grace Hagan and freshman Katie McClure have notched nearly a third of the team’s total shots (53), six of their teammates have added double-digit attempts to the team’s total of 173.
This is a trend that carried over from last year’s squad, as 11 different players managed to post double-figure shots and 10 Jayhawks tallied at least one goal or assist in 2015.
The Jayhawks have continued their trend of relatively strong performances in matches away from Rock Chalk Park. Kansas can hang its hat on an impressive record in road games over the past two-plus years. KU has played 24 regular-season road games since the start of the 2014 season, amassing a record of 12-9-3, which included a 5-5-1 record last year.
The Jayhawks will hope they can continue this trend over the next three weekends, with four of their next six matches away from Lawrence.
With the conclusion of the nonconference portion of their season, the Jayhawks have made it nine-straight years with a .500 winning percentage or better against regular-season nonconference foes. Since the start of the 2012 season, Kansas has posted an impressive 32-15-6 mark in its 53 regular-season nonconference matches (66%), which includes a 20-8-3 mark since 2014. In the last five seasons, KU has outscored noncon opponents by a tally of 91-50.
Mark Francis has led KU to a winning record in noncon in 17 of his 18 seasons in Lawrence and is now 111-47-10 in regular-season nonconference games.
With a veteran crew comprising the KU back line this season, the Jayhawks are once again proving to be a stout defensive team. Kansas is boasting a goals-against average of 0.84 following its first 10 matches, which includes three shutouts. The Jayhawks are also allowing just over 10 opponent shots per match, which includes three games when KU opponents sent in seven or fewer attempts. Over their last 52 matches (dating back to the start of the 2014 season), the Jayhawks shutout 18 opponents and boasted a goals-against average of 0.95. Kansas has conceded only 53 opponent goals in that span and has allowed one opponent goal or less in 14 of its last 16 matches dating back to last season.
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.
Already in 2016 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 61 matches. The Jayhawks’ record in those matches: 47-8-6. 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 5-1-2 record this year.
Over its past 92 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 92-game span, the Jayhawks have been on the losing end only once in the matches which they have put in the match’s first goal. Kansas has amassed a record of 45-1-5 in those games, which included an 8-0-1 mark last year and a 5-0-2 mark so far this season. The Jayhawks’ draw at Pepperdine last Sunday night marked their 39th-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’ wins over Colorado College and Arkansas last season were the first and only wins in that same 92-game span when finding itself trailing 1-0 at any point in a match. The Jayhawks are 2-35-1 in those games over the last four seasons, which includes all three of the Jayhawks’ losses thus far in 2016.
Kansas returns eight players from last year’s team that started at least 17 games. Included in the eight returning starters are six players who have amassed 35 starts or more during their Jayhawk careers.
Senior Tayler Estrada leads the way among active KU players with 61 starts in her KU career, while senior Jackie Georgoulis has been a starter in 48 matches. Junior Kayla Morrison has started each of her team’s 43 matches during her time in Lawrence. Seniors Hanna Kallmaier and Morgan Williams have 40 starts to their credit with senior Aurélie Gagnet not far behind with 37.
Few teams in the history of Kansas soccer have had a team with has many veterans alongside so many newcomers as the 2016 Jayhawks. This year’s team will feature seven seniors, two of which are fifth-year seniors. Six of the seven members of the 2016 senior class have played in at least 49 matches during their careers and each senior has been in the starting lineup on at least nine occasions.
On the other hand, over 40 percent of this year’s Kansas squad will feature freshmen as the Jayhawks will see nine true freshmen as well as a pair of redshirt freshmen on the roster. No other KU team since 1999 (Mark Francis era) has had a roster with more than 10 freshmen.
The 2016 version of the Jayhawks will try to fill the void left by two of the most talented goal scorers in program history. Graduated seniors Liana Salazar and Ashley Williams combined for 49 goals and 22 assists during their respective KU careers, which included 31 goals over the last two seasons. Salazar ended her career as the No. 2 goal scorer in program history with her 28 goals, while Williams closed her collegiate career at No. 7 on KU’s all-time chart with 21.
With the loss of the senior duo, Salazar and Williams, as well as All-Big 12 freshman Parker Roberts, the Jayhawks will need to replace over half of their offensive production from a season ago. Sophomore Grace Hagan could be the top candidate to pull the offensive slack. The Wichita, Kansas product notched four goals and four assists in her first season in Lawrence last year, while seniors Jackie Georgoulis, Ashley Pankey and sophomore Anna Courtney combined for the Jayhawks’ remaining six goals in 2016.
Kansas will head south for a pair of conference road matches in the Lone Star State next weekend. The Jayhawks will take on the unbeaten TCU Horned Frogs on Friday, Sept. 30 in Fort Worth before journeying to Austin for a Sunday match up with the Texas Longhorns.
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