Jayhawks stun No. 7 USC, 2-1
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Jayhawks led the defending NCAA Champions for nearly 80 minutes and were able to hold off a late surge to top the No. 7-ranked USC Trojans, 2-1, Sunday night at Rock Chalk Park. Sophomore Katie McClure netted her first goal of the season in the 12th minute, while a Trojan own goal handed KU its second goal of the match in the 69th minute.
The win gave the Jayhawks their fifth-straight victory as KU now sits 5-1-0 on the year. The loss dropped USC to 2-1-0 in 2017.
“I think, at the end, I was happy for the kids because they executed the game plan really well,” said head coach Mark Francis. “They worked their tails off today and deserved the victory. It would have been a shame if we hadn’t have won it. So I was really happy for the kids because I think they did what we told them to do and put the effort in. It doesn’t always work out that way, but it did tonight.”
For the third time in its last four games, Kansas found the back of the net within the opening 15 minutes of action. With KU on the attack, junior Grace Hagan used some fancy footwork to evade a defender and send a low pass toward the heart of the USC penalty area. McClure managed to get a foot on the pass just inside the six-yard box and sneak a shot past the Trojan goalkeeper. The goal, McClure’s first of the season and the sixth of her career, gave KU a lead for the fifth-straight match.
The home side continued to take it to the Trojans for the rest of the opening half, outshooting the visitors by a tally of 5-4 in the first frame.
USC, riding an eight-game unbeaten streak dating back to last season, showed it would not go out without a fight as the Trojans came out of the halftime locker room intent on finding an early equalizer. But just as it had over the previous four games, the Kansas defense held strong. Goalkeeper Maddie Dobyns and the Jayhawk backline thwarted several dangerous chances from the Trojans during the final 45 minutes.
Some fortune came the Jayhawks’ way in the 69th minute when USC’s Ally Prisock played a pass back to her own keeper, Kaylie Collins. The pass took an awkward skip and got past the Trojan goal keeper and rolled harmlessly over the goal line, putting the Jayhawks up by two goals. The own goal was the first by a KU opponent since 2014.
Katie McClure and Grace HaganIt only took five minutes for the Trojans to get that goal back however, when a foul inside the Kansas penalty area awarded USC a penalty kick. Alex Anthony converted on the try to cut the KU lead in half with just over 15 minutes remaining in regulation. The goal ended one of the longest opponent scoreless streaks in Kansas’ history, as the Jayhawks went more than 455-straight minutes without conceding an opponent goal. That total marked the third-longest streak of its kind in KU history.
Those final 15 minutes seemed to tick by at a snail’s pace as the Jayhawks were forced to deflect attack after attack from the Trojans. In the 79th minute, USC appeared as though it had tied up the game after a long cross was headed down amongst a scrum of Jayhawks and Trojans right in the mouth of the KU goal. At the bottom of the pile though was the KU keeper, Dobyns, who corralled the loose ball before a USC player could get to it.
USC managed only one more shot over the final 10 minutes of regulation as the Jayhawks closed out the upset victory, 2-1. The win gave Kansas its sixth victory in program history over a top-10 ranked opponent and its first since 2012.
The Jayhawks begin of stretch of six road contests in seven games when they journey to St. Louis on Friday, Sept. 8. KU and SLU are slated to kick off from Robert R. Hermann Stadium at 7 p.m. Two days later, Kansas will return home to take on former Big 12 foe Texas A&M at Rock Chalk Park. The match, scheduled to begin at 1 p.m., will be televised on Spectrum Sports and ESPN3.