Jayhawks welcome Cyclones to Rock Chalk Park Saturday
Junior Elise Reina
|Game 12: vs. Iowa State|
|Rock Chalk Park (2,500)|
|Shot on Goal %||.359||.452|
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas Jayhawks return to Rock Chalk Park for a rare Saturday match when the Iowa State Cyclones make the trek from Ames. KU, unbeaten in its last seven outings against ISU, will kick off from Lawrence at 7 p.m. The contest will be broadcast live on ESPN+ with Nate Bukaty (PxP) and Sydney Miramontez (analyst) slated to call the action.
- Kansas was slotted at No. 17 in this week’s Rating Percentage Index (RPI) released by the NCAA this week. The Jayhawks join a strong showing by the Big 12, which is the nation’s No. 1 RPI conference and features six squads inside the top-30.
- As KU looks to recover from its second loss of the season, the Jayhawks have proven to be able to bounce back from setbacks over the last three years. Kansas is 7-3-4 in matches following a loss since the 2016 season.
- Eight of the Jayhawks’ 17 goals scored this season have come in the 60th minute of later. That number includes five goals Kansas has tallied in the final five minutes of regulation or in overtime.
- Forward Katie McClure has kicked off her junior year with six goals and three assists, and has already twice been named the Big 12’s Offensive Player of the Week. Her 15 points are tied for second in the Big 12 this season.
- Kansas is currently navigating through the 26th-toughest schedule in the NCAA. The Jayhawks have played or will play nine teams that are ranked 53rd or better in this week’s RPI.
- The KU defense has amassed a goals-against average of 0.84 after its first 11 outings, a number that ranks the Jayhawks fifth in the Big 12 and 64th in the NCAA.
- Staying on defense, the KU back line has held its first 11 opponents to an average of 7.5 shots per game, which includes six matches when the Jayhawks conceded seven or fewer shots.
- Head coach Mark Francis is just three victories shy from claiming No. 250 in his collegiate head coaching career. Francis boasts a career record of 247-184-34 in 23 seasons at the NCAA DI level, with 214 of this wins coming at KU.
ABOUT THE JAYHAWKS
Kansas, receiving votes in the latest United Soccer Coaches’ poll, is coming off its first home loss of 2018, after falling to then-No. 15 Oklahoma State, 2-1, on Sept. 23. The Jayhawks began the season going unbeaten in its first 6-0-2 in its first eight outings, but have lost two of their three most recent outings, both to teams currently ranked in the top-13 of the national rankings.
In addition to McClure, the Jayhawk offense enjoyed an effective start to 2018, averaging over 15 shots in its first 11 matches, and averaging nearly six of those shots on target per match. Seven different Jayhawks have tallied double-digit shots this season and 11 different players have posted a goal or an assist. KU forwards Katie McClure and Grace Hagan have combined for 10 of the Jayhawks’ 17 goals, netting six and four, respectively.
The KU defense got out to an impressive start to the season, allowing just two goals in its first seven matches and notching five shutouts. However in their next four contests, the Jayhawks have conceded eight goals and have not kept a clean sheet. KU is holding opponents to 7.4 shots per match and only three shots on goal per match. Freshman Sarah Peters was the starting keeper in all 11 contests, keeping a clean sheet in five of those appearances and has collected 22 saves for a .688 save percentage.
LAST TIME OUT
An attempt at another comeback came too late as the No. 24 Kansas Jayhawks fell short to the No. 15 Oklahoma State Cowgirls, 2-1, Sunday afternoon at Rock Chalk Park. OSU netted a pair of second-half goals before Grace Hagan netted her fourth of the season in the 90th minute.
The Cowgirls broke the scoreless match just three minutes into the second frame when senior forward Haley Woodard stole a ball near midfield and on a breakaway, scored on a chip shot over KU goalkeeper Sarah Peters. Oklahoma State made a potential KU comeback more difficult 20 minutes later when the Cowgirls struck off a set piece. In the 67th minute, Marlo Zoller dove to meet a free kick service from Kim Rodriquez in the heart of the KU penalty box. Zoller slammed the ball into the back of the Jayhawks’ net for her sixth goal of the season and gave her team a commanding 2-0 lead.
With the clock ticking toward the end of the match, junior Elise Reina sent in a desperation corner kick that found the head of her teammate, Hagan. The senior out of Wichita redirected the ball into the Cowgirl goal for her fourth of the season, however, with only 13 seconds remaining, it proved to be too little, too late. Kansas ended the match with another dominating outing in the shots column, holding a 21-6 edge over the visitors, as well as a 9-3 tally on corner kicks. Peters ended the afternoon suffering her second loss in goal for the Jayhawks, collecting three saves.
ABOUT THE CYCLONES
Located in Ames, Iowa with an enrollment of 36,660, Iowa State enters Saturday’s match with an 2-8-2 record after its first 12 games. The Cyclones are winless in five-straight matches and have yet to win on the road, sitting at 0-4-2 away from Ames. ISU opened Big 12 play in Texas last weekend, pulling out a 2-2 draw against TCU in Fort Worth and falling to No. 22 Texas Tech, 0-3, in Lubbock.
The Iowa State offense has seen its struggles so far this season, scoring 12 times in its first 12 outings, which includes being shutout four times. ISU is posting 10.3 shots per game and is scoring on just over nine percent of those attempts. The Cyclones have managed to put 45 percent of those 10.3 shots per game on target. Four Cyclones are tied for the team lead with two goals each, while Emily Steil is tops on the squad with five assists. She and Klasey Medelberg are tops on the squad in shots with 18.
The ISU defense has conceded 21 goals this season, which includes 12 over its last five contests. Cyclone opponents are averaging over 16 shots per match but are putting 43 percent of those attempts on frame. Sophopmore Dayja Schwichenberg has played every minute of the Cyclones’ season in goal, posting a goals-against average of 1.66, collecting a Big 12-leading 62 saves and tallying a pair of shutouts.
Tony Minatta is in his fifth season as the head coach of the Iowa State women’s soccer program. In his first four-plus seasons with the Cyclones, Minatta has amassed a record of 28-51-6.
NO GAMES OFF
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 2018 schedule, which is currently sits as the 26th-toughest in all of NCAA DI, features eight teams that competed in the NCAA Tournament a year ago as well as four reiging conference champions. The Jayhawks, sitting at 7-2-2 after their first 11 games of the season, have played or will play six teams that are ranked or receiving votes in the most recent United Soccer Coaches’ top-25 poll. That number includes two squads inside the top-10.
The Jayhawks have already played four top-25 teams over the first six weeks of the season, which included two wins over ranked squads (No. 18 Pepperdine and No. 25 Butler). It appears as though KU will face several more battles with top-25 teams this season with the bulk of Big 12 Conference play still to come. The conference currently features five teams that are ranked or receiving votes in the Coaches’ poll and that includes No. 8 Texas and No. 13 Oklahoma State. The Big 12’s winning percentage, 66.6 percent, after the first six weeks of the season ranks fourth out of the 31 DI conferences.
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. Eleven different Jayhawks have had their hand in at least one of the team’s goals thus far in 2018, either scoring or assisting. A total of seven players have managed to tally double-digit shots which includes four players who have posted 19 or more attempts.
This is a trend that has been carried over from last year’s squad which was also an unselfish bunch, as eight different players managed to post double-figure shots and 13 Jayhawks tallied at least one goal or assist in 2017.
LATE MATCH MAGIC
The Jayhawks have been clutch in crunch time during the first half of the 2018 campaign. Eight of the Jayhawks’ 17 goals scored thus far have come in the 60th minute or later. That number includes five goals Kansas has tallied in the final five minutes of regulation or in overtime.
The Jayhawks have come out on top in all three of the matches that have seen Kansas score in the 85th minute or later. KU has netted a pair of golden goals already in 2018, both off the boot of junior forward Katie McClure. McClure scored overtime game-winners against Utah (8/31) and Oklahoma (9/21), which are included in her four game-winners this season. Those four game-winning strikes rank her first among Big 12 players and are fifth-most be a Jayhawk in school history.
McClure’s two golden goals have given Kansas two victories that have come by way of an overtime this season, which marks the first time the Jayhawks have tallied multiple OT wins in a season since 2015. That 2015 squad holds the program record for overtime wins in a season with three.
FRANCIS approaching 250 collegiate wins
With Kansas’ 2-1 win over Oklahoma on Sept. 21, Mark Francis claimed his 247th victory as the head coach at the NCAA DI level. He has now amassed a record of 247-184-34 over his 23 years as a collegiate coach. The veteran coach has averaged nearly 11 wins per season during his first 22 years on the sideline. He is currently second among the active Big 12 coaches in career victories behind West Virginia’s Nikki Izzo-Brown.
With the release of the season’s second Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) report by the NCAA this week, several good signs stick out for the Jayhawks. Kansas checked in at No. 17 on the list that takes numerous factors into account including strength of schedule, record against top-50 teams and home versus road record. The ranking marked the second-straight week the Jayhawks found themselves in the top-25 after being slotted at No. 13 last week. That was Kansas’ highest to start the year since the weekly RPI report became public in 2011.
This week’s report shows that the Big 12 is the nation’s toughest conference. The league was listed as the nation’s No. 1 conference with this week’s RPI boasting six of its 10 teams inside the top-30. The conference’s high ranking also means the Jayhawks will get plenty of chances to up their national standing as five of their next seven contests will be against teams currently ranked inside the top-70 of the RPI.
HOME SWEET HOME
Rock Chalk Park has been a welcome site for the Jayhawks this season, with Kansas going 6-1-0 in its first seven outings on its home pitch. Including this year’s hot start, the Jayhawks are 28-13-2 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.
Since moving into Rock Chalk Park, Kansas has built a goal differential of +24 and boasts a goals-against average of 0.90, a number that includes 15 shutouts.
HOT START HAWKS
The impressive early performance in the 2018 campaign puts this year’s Jayhawk squad among just a few other Kansas teams that have gotten their seasons off to a fast start. This bunch joined two other KU teams that suffered one or fewer losses over the first 10 games of the season (2014 and 2004).
The Jayhawks’ early success bodes well for the bunch, as each of those past two KU teams went on to make the NCAA Tournament and posted 15 or more victories Kansas logged top-three finishes in the final Big 12 standings in both of those years as well.
LET’S GET DEFENSIVE
In their first 11 matches of 2018, the Jayhawks have once again proven to be a stout defensive team, carrying over the trend from their last several seasons. Kansas currently boasts a goals-against average of 0.84 this season, which encompasses five shutouts in its first 11 outings. The Jayhawks are allowing just over seven opponent shots per match, which includes six games that they held their opponents to seven or fewer attempts.
KU has already put together an impressive shutout streak to start this season. Kansas went 354-straight minutes without conceding a goal over its first four matches. The figure is the eighth-longest shutout streak in program history and marked the fourth time over the last five seasons the Jayhawks have tallied an opponent scoreless streak of 300 minutes or longer.
FIRST TO SCORE, WINS GALORE
Dating back to the beginning of the 2012 season, now at 134 games, Kansas has developed an interesting trend when it comes to which team tallies the first goal of the match. During that 134-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 60-2-8 in those games (91.4 winning %), which included a 6-1-2 mark last year and already a 4-0-1 mark in 2018. The Jayhawks’ loss at BYU on Sept. 18 of 2017 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 Oklahoma on Sept. 21 marked just the eighth victory for the Jayhawks in that same 134-game span when finding itself trailing 1-0 at any point in a match. Kansas is now 8-48-4 in those games over the last five seasons, which included eight of KU’s losses and a tie in 2017.
EXPERIENCE VS. YOUTH
The 2018 edition of the Jayhawks is a youthful bunch, with 16 of the 30-woman roster boasting only one season of collegiate experience or less. There are 11 newcomers on this season’s roster, including 10 true freshmen, who the coaches are leaning on to contribute almost immediately. The squad will feature four seniors, two of whom are in their fifth year.
With four of their final six regular-season matches on the road, 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’ draw at Cincinnati on Sept. 6, KU has played 41 regular-season games away from Rock Chalk Park since the start of the 2014 season, amassing a record of 20-13-8, which included a 4-4-2 record last year. KU has posted a .500 record or better in regular-season road or neutral matches every year since 2014.
Senior forward Grace Hagan hopes to put an emphatic stamp on an already outstanding career at KU. Last year saw her make headlines across the state, the region and the nation. She kicked off the year beginning named to the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List and ended it on the All-Big 12 Second Team and the All-South Region Third Team. She led the Jayhawks with seven goals, five assists and 19 points, figures that ranked the Wichita product among the top-10 in the Big 12 in their respective categories.
As she works through her senior season, she will be in prime position to make big jumps on some impressive lists, creeping closer to inserting her name among the top offensive players in Jayhawk history. Her 22 career goals currently rank her eighth on Kansas’ all-time goal scorer chart and her 13 career assists also have her at No. 12 on KU’s all-time assists list.
FEEDING ON NONCON
With the nonconference portion of the season in the rear view mirror, the Jayhawks have wrapped up another dominating preconference campaign. This season, KU made it 11-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 43-20-9 mark in its 72 regular-season nonconference matches (66%), which includes a 31-13-6 mark since 2014. In the last six seasons, KU has outscored noncon opponents by a tally of 120-72. Mark Francis has now led KU to a winning record in noncon in 19 of his 20 seasons in Lawrence and is 123-52-13 in regular-season nonconference games.
KU will journey to in-state rival Kansas State for the second installment of the Dillons Sunflower Showdown on Friday, Oct. 6. The Jayhawks and Wildcats will kick off from K-State Soccer Complex at 7 p.m., on ESPN3.
KUAthletics.com: The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.