Kansas returns home to face Panthers at Rock Chalk Park
UPDATE: In an attempt to avoid potential severe weather that is expected to move into the Lawrence area tonight,Kansas officials have elected to move the start of tonight’s Kansas-Pittsburgh soccer match to 6 p.m. Public gates to Rock Chalk Park will now open at 5 p.m. The match will still be available for streaming at KUAthletics.com and on the radio at KUAthletics.com/radio.
LAWRENCE, Kan. – After a three-match road stint, the Kansas soccer team will return home for one of only two home matches in the month of September when the Jayhawks host Pittsburgh on Friday, Sept. 9. The Jayhawks and Panthers will do battle for the first time when they meet at Rock Chalk Park. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
ABOU THE JAYHAWKS
The Kansas Jayhawks enter Friday’s match with just one defeat in their last five outings, which included a 2-1 win over Valparaiso last Sunday in Lincoln, Nebraska. After allowing two goals in the first 70 minutes of the season on Aug. 19 vs. Minnesota, KU has conceded just three opponent goals in the 510 minutes since, which includes shutout victories over Marquette and Colorado.
The Jayhawk offense has been active over the first two weekends of the season, averaging almost 17 shots per match, the second-most by the program at this point in the last 10 seasons, and tallying over eight corner kicks per outing, which leads the Big 12. Ten different Jayhawks tallied at least five shots during the first six matches, with nine players boasting a goal or an assist. Sophomore Grace Hagan along with freshmen Mandi Duggan and Katie McClure lead the team with two goals apiece. Hagan and McClure have combined for over a quarter of the team’s shots with 27.
The KU defense has allowed five goals thus far in 2016, one of which was a penalty kick. The Jayhawks have held their six opponents to an average of only 9.3 shots per game and a total of just 23 shots on frame (3.8 per game). Over the last three seasons the Jayhawks are boasting a goals-against average of 0.95 and have held opponents to 12.3 shots per game during that span. Junior Maddie Dobyns got the start between the posts in KU’s first six outings. She has made 18 saves, allowed five goals and tallied her eighth-career shutout with her clean sheet against Colorado on Aug. 26.
ABOUT THE PANTHERS
Pittsburgh enters Friday’s match with a 1-4-1 record and is coming off three-consecutive shutout defeats at the hands of Colorado College, UC Santa Barbara and UC Irvine. Last year’s Pitt squad posted a 10-7-1 record, including a 4-6-0 mark in ACC play.
The Pitt offense has gotten out to a slow start early in its 2016 campaign, netting four goals in six games, but settling for shutouts in four of those outings. Over the first six matches, the Panthers are posting 9.0 shots per game but are scoring on over seven percent of those attempts. Pittsburgh has also managed to put over 55 percent of those nine shots per game on target. Two players have accounted for the team’s four goals thus far with freshman forward Alex Wright leading the squad with her three goals.
The Panther defense has conceded 13 goals in its six matches, which includes seven opponent goals in its two matches last weekend. Pitt opponents are averaging 13 shots per match and are putting nearly 60 percent of those attempts on frame. Taylor Francis has played all 560 minutes of the Panthers season in goal. The senior is boasting a goals-against average of 2.09, a save percentage of .705 and has tallied 33 saves.
Greg Miller is in his fifth season at Pittsburgh and has a record of 28-46-5. Last year, Miller guided the team to its first 10-win season in program history, which included a 6-2-0 record at home. In 2013, Miller signed the highest rated recruiting class in the history of the Pitt women’s soccer program as the 12-member 2014 class was ranked No. 14 nationally by bigsoccer.com.
LAST TIME OUT
Sophomore Grace Hagan sent in the game-winner and added an assist as she helped the Kansas Jayhawks dispatch of the Valparaiso Crusaders, 2-1, last Sunday morning in Lincoln. Freshman Katie McClure also added a goal in the victory, the second in her last three outings.
In the 18th minute, Hagan played a short, low pass across the face of the Crusader goal and found fellow Wichitan, McClure, who was there to tap the ball into the back of the net. The goal was the second of the season for the freshman.
In the 54th minute, Hagan was on the receiving end of KU’s next goal, off a KU free kick.
Hagan led all players with three shots on the day, while the Jayhawks outshot Valparaiso by a tally of 18-3. KU goalkeeper Maddie Dobyns had a quiet day, making just one save but facing only three Crusader shots.
With a veteran laden team, there is bound to be some impressive career streaks established and the 2016 Jayhawks are no different. One streak that shows the continuity and consistency of the KU crew is the amount of consecutive games started. Six Jayhawks currently boast stretches of 25-straight matches started or longer, which includes junior Kayla Morrison, whose streak sits at 48-straight starts for the Jayhawks.
Morrison’s mark is already among the longest in program history as it its 12th on the all-time list among field players. If the Corona, California product is in the starting lineup in each of Kansas’ final 12 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.
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. Nine 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 15 players have managed to tally multiple shots and, while sophomore Grace Hagan and freshman Katie McClure have notched over a quarter of the team’s total shots (27), seven of their teammates can boast adding five or more attempts to the team’s total of 101.
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.
Last weekend the Jayhawks continued their trend of relatively strong performances in matches away from Rock Chalk Park. The Jayhawks can hang their hats on an impressive record in road games over the past two years. KU has played 21 regular-season road games since the start of the 2014 season, amassing a record of 11-8-2, which included a 5-5-1 record last year.
The Jayhawks will hope they can continue this trend over the next four weekends, with five of their next seven matches away from Lawrence.
FEEDING ON NONCON
This season, the Jayhawks will try to make it eight-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 30-14-5 mark in its 49 regular-season nonconference matches (66%), which includes a 18-7-2 mark since 2014. Since the start of the 2012 season, KU has outscored noncon opponents by a tally of 85-46.
Mark Francis has led KU to a winning record in noncon in 16 of his 17 seasons in Lawrence and is now 109-46-9 in regular-season nonconference games.
LET’s GET DEFENSIVE
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 0.78 following its first six matches as well as two shutouts. The Jayhawks are also allowing just over nine opponent shots per match, which includes two games when KU opponents sent in seven attempts. Over their last 48 matches (dating back to the start of the 2014 season), the Jayhawks shutout 16 opponents and boasted a goals-against average of 0.95. Kansas has conceded only 47 opponent goals in that span and has allowed one opponent goal or less in 10 of its last 11 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.
JUST ONE WILL DO IT
The 2016 Jayhawks will try 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 58 matches. The Jayhawks’ record in those matches: 45-8-5. 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.
FIRST TO SCORE, WINS GALORE
Over its past 88 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 88-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 43-1-4 in those games, which included an 8-0-1 mark last year and a 3-0-1 mark so far this season. The Jayhawks’ win over Valparaiso last Sunday marked their 36th-consecutive unbeaten match when KU has 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 88-game span when finding itself trailing 1-0 at any point in a match. The Jayhawks are 2-34-1 in those games over the last four seasons, which includes both the Jayhawks’ losses thus far in 2016.
REBOUNDING ON OPENING WEEKEND
Despite its loss to Minnesota on opening night, Kansas continued its habit of rebounding off a season-opening loss when it claimed its 1-0 win over Marquette two days later. The win kept alive an impressive streak that has developed over Mark Francis’ tenure. The Jayhawks have lost their first match of the season eight times during their 21-year history, but have conceded two-straight losses to open a campaign just twice in that span.
Kansas last began a season with two losses in 1998 and has never started a year 0-2 in head coach Mark Francis’ 18 seasons at the helm in Lawrence. The only other team to drop its first two outings was KU’s inaugural team in 1995. In Francis’ 18 years, his six teams that lost their opening match have established a record of 4-0-2 in their second outing of the year.
JAYHAWKS PICKED SEVENTH IN BIG 12 PRESEASON COACHES’ POLL
Kansas soccer was predicted to finish seventh in the 2016 league standings according to the Big 12 preseason coaches’ poll which was released last week. The ranking marks just the fourth time in the 17-year history of the preseason vote that KU has been picked seventh or lower in the conference’s poll.
Four-time defending league champion West Virginia was the coaches’ choice to win the conference, receiving eight first-place votes and 64 points overall. The Mountaineers were followed by Texas Tech (57), Oklahoma (42), Baylor (35), Oklahoma State (34), Texas (32), Kansas (30), TCU (22) and Iowa State (8).
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.
EXPERIENCE VS. YOUTH
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.
BIG CLEATS TO FILL
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.
THIS DAY IN KU SOCCER HISTORY:
September 9, 2012 – Junior forward Caroline Kastor picked up her second-consecutive two-goal match and helped the Kansas Jayhawks to a 3-2 victory over the North Carolina State Wolfpack at the Jayhawk Soccer Complex. The win, which extended KU’s unbeaten streak to six games, lifted Kansas to 6-1-1 on the season and snapped NC State’s five-game winning streak.
Kastor found the net twice in the second period on nearly identical goals just over one minute apart. With the score tied at one in the 57th minute, a streaking Kastor found herself on the end of a Jamie Fletcher through ball. The Wichita, Kansas, native flashed past the NC State defense and knocked in her sixth goal of the season to push the Jayhawks ahead, 2-1.
Kansas outshot NC State 17-13, including an 11-6 clip in the second half. The Jayhawks also put 10 shots on goal compared to just three for the Wolfpack. Kastor was all over the field for KU, striking five shots and putting three on goal. Her two scores also gave her 16 points on the season.
KU will make the 30 minute trip east to Kansas City, Missouri to take on the UMKC Kangaroos on Sunday, Sept. 11. Game time from Durwood Stadium is set for 7 p.m. The following weekend, the Jayhawks will journey to the west coast for contests against the USC Trojans and the Pepperdine Waves on Sept. 16 and 18.