Kansas falls to Iowa, 1-0, in exhibition action

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – In its first and only exhibition matchup of the 2017 season, Kansas soccer was unable to recover from a first half Iowa goal that eventually pushed the Hawkeyes to a 1-0 victory Saturday at Rock Chalk Park.
Despite a slow start, the Jayhawks came out in the second half and stepped up the intensity. In the first 15 minutes of the period, KU’s offense recorded four shots, matching its total from the first half. By the final horn, Kansas had outshot the visitors, 12-5, but wasn’t able to find the back of the net.
“My biggest beef with (the team) at half time was the fact that we were getting beat to the ball all over the field, in the air, on the ground and every line on the field,” said head coach Mark Francis. “That shouldn’t be a conversation that I have to have with the group. We should be getting to the ball first, so I was happy to see they responded to that.”
 Senior Lois Heuchan
It took both teams a few minutes following kickoff to find their rhythm on the pitch. Iowa’s offense took control first with an attempt on goal, but senior goalkeeper Maddie Dobyns scooped the ball up to keep the score even at zero early on. It wasn’t until the 20th minute that Kansas nearly opened the scoring when sophomore forward Katie McClure took a shot on an open goal, but an Iowa defender has there to deflect the try off the line, keeping the score tied at zero.
“I was a little disappointed we didn’t come out in the beginning playing with that kind of intensity,” Francis said. “To be honest, we had a lot of young players out there with their first collegiate game. All the freshmen in the second half looked a lot better, it was night and day from the first. That was encouraging and it’ll get better.”
Despite Kansas taking two more shots late in the first half, the Hawkeyes slipped the ball in the back of the net on a header from senior midfielder Karly Stuenkel in the 28th minute to take a 1-0 advantage over the Jayhawks. Redshirt sophomore forward Kaleigh Haus assisted the go ahead goal.
At intermission, both Kansas and Iowa had recorded four shots a piece. All four of the Jayhawks’ attempts were on goal as sophomore goalkeeper Claire Graves racked up three saves in the opening half. Each shot attempt came from a different Jayhawk as KU searched for the equalizing goal.
McClure’s second shot of the game and first shot of the second half came in the 50th minute, but the attempt sailed just high of the cross bar and Iowa’s 1-0 lead stayed intact.
The Jayhawks had back-to-back near goals in the 59th minute, but Iowa maintained its lead with a pair of saves. KU was awarded another free kick and freshman midfielder Ceri Holland’s set piece was nearly flicked in by senior defender Kayla Morrison, as Kansas continued to battle for the equalizing goal.
The Jayhawks outshot Iowa, 8-1, in the second half and despite numerous close calls, including a shot that hit the post in the final seconds, it was the Hawkeye’s first-half goal that proved to be the difference maker in the preseason tune up.
Kansas will now look forward to its season opener in just six days when it welcomes in the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Friday, Aug. 18. The Jayhawks will square off against their former Big 12 foes starting at 7 p.m. inside Rock Chalk Park.
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