Kansas to close out regular-season at No. 13 West Virginia Thursday
Senior forward Grace Hagan
|Game 18: at #13 West Virginia|
|6 p.m. (CT)|
|Dick Dlesk Stadium (1,650)|
|Shot on Goal %||.370||.397|
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas soccer close out the 2018 regular season when the Jayhawks travel to Morgantown, West Virginia to take on the 13th-ranked Mountaineers. KU, looking to put an end to a three-game losing skid, will kick off against WVU, winners of four-straight, from Dick Dlesk Stadium at 6 p.m. (CT).
- KU has clinched a spot in the Big 12 Championship in Kansas City Oct. 28-Nov. 4. It marks the eighth-straight season the Jayhawks will play in the league’s postseason tournament.
- Based on results from the final night of league play, the Jayhawks could finish anywhere from fourth to seventh on the final league table. Kansas has finished sixth or higher in the Big 12 standings in five-straight years.
- Kansas will play its third top-25 team in as many games Thursday, it will be just the third time in the last 10 seasons the Jayhawks will play three-consecutive ranked squads. KU is 6-12-1 against top-25 teams since 2016.
- Senior Grace Hagan has scored each of her seven goals on the year in her last nine outings. Her 25 career goals rank fifth in program history.
- The Jayhawks are in the midst of the three-game losing streak, marking just the fifth time since 2014 Kansas has endured a losing stretch longer than two games.
- Kansas was slotted at No. 30 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 seven squads inside the top-41.
- Ten of the Jayhawks’ 23 goals scored this season have come in the 60th minute or later. That number includes seven goals Kansas has tallied in the final 10 minutes of regulation or in overtime.
- Head coach Mark Francis claimed victory No. 250 in his collegiate head coaching career with KU’s win over TCU on Oct. 12. Francis now boasts a career record of 250-185-34 in 23 seasons at the NCAA DI level, with 216 of his wins coming at KU.
ABOUT THE JAYHAWKS
Kansas, sitting sixth on the league table as it enters the final match of the regular season, is coming off a 3-1 loss to Baylor on Sunday afternoon in Waco. The Jayhawks are 3-4-0 in their last seven outings and is 1-3-1 in true road games this season.
The Jayhawk offense has enjoyed a solid to 2018 thus far, having only been shut out three times and scoring multiple goals in seven of its matches. KU averaged 15 shots in its first 17 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 14 of the Jayhawks’ 24 goals, with each netting seven apiece.
The KU defense has held its opponent to a goal or less in 11 of its 17 outings this season which included seven shutouts. KU is holding opponents to 8.2 shots per match and less than three shots on goal per match. Freshman Sarah Peters was the starting keeper in all 17 contests, keeping a clean sheet in seven of those appearances and has collected 35 saves for a .660 save percentage.
LAST TIME OUT
A trio of second-half goals proved too much to overcome for Kansas soccer as the No. 13 Baylor Bears topped the Jayhawks, 3-1, Sunday afternoon at Betty Lou Mays Field. Senior Grace Hagan put KU on top in the 33rd minute with her seventh goal of the year, however three unanswered goals by Baylor over the final 40 minutes of play completed the Bear comeback.
Just over 30 minute into the match, Hagan got Kansas on the scoreboard first with her header-turned-goal off of a corner kick from junior defender Elise Reina. The goal was Hagan’s seventh of the season and 25th of her career. The Wichita native ended the day taking five of KU’s eight shots, two of which were on goal.
After taking the 1-0 edge into the halftime locker room, it was a set piece by Baylor that evened the match just five minutes into the second period. A corner kick by sophomore midfielder Ally Henderson found the head of teammate Camryn Wendlandt, in the middle of the box and past KU goalkeeper Sarah Peters for the equalizer, 1-1, with 50:10 on the clock.
The Bears claimed their first lead of the day 22 minutes later, scoring their second goal of the afternoon off another set piece. A loose ball in the KU box found its way into the back of the Jayhawk goal by freshman forward Elena Reyna, her first of the season, to put the Bears up, 2-1, in the 73rd minute. In the final 10 minutes of regulation Baylor junior Raegan Padgett broke away from the KU defense, pulling Peters out from between the posts and sidestepped the KU freshman before sending a swift kick into the back of the net to put her team up, 3-1, putting the match out of reach for the visiting Jayhawks.
ABOUT THE MOUNTAINEERS
Located in Morgantown, West Virginia with an enrollment of 31,287, the Mountaineers enter Thursday’s match tied atop the league table with Baylor at 7-1-0 in Big 12 play. WVU is 5-2-0 at home this season and has just one loss in its last 11 games. The Mountaineers are coming off a road weekend with two victories, winning 2-1 at Oklahoma State and 4-1 at Oklahoma on Oct. 19 and 21, respectively.
The West Virginia offense has been potent in 2018, having been shutout only four times, and once in its last 11 matches. WVU is averaging 1.82 goals per game and has tallied two or more goals in four-straight games. WVU is averaging 21.6 shots per match and is putting 40 percent of those shots on frame. Bianca St. Georges leads her team with six goals, while Lauren Segalla its tops on the squad with four assists.
The Mountaineer defense has also been stout, having tallied eight shutouts and a goals-against average of 0.56. WVU opponents are averaging 6.1 shots per match and are putting 31.1 percent of those attempts on frame. Goalkeeper Rylee Foster has started in goal in all 17 of her team’s matches. Foster has turned in a goals-against average of 0.57, a save percentage of .677 and has tallied seven shutouts.
Nikki Izzo-Brown is in her 23rd season as the head coach of the West Virginia women’s soccer program, amassing a record of 336-110-52.
A TALE OF TWO SEASONS
After a quick start to the 2018 campaign, the Jayhawks have hit a bit of a rough patch over the last month, and nothing demonstrates this fact better than comparing the team’s first eight matches with its nine most recent. The team began the year without a loss in its first eight outings, but the team that took the field the next nine times suffered five defeats. The difference in squads over those two periods of the 2018 season is apparent by much more than just looking at wins and losses.
In its first eight matches, the Kansas defense was almost unbreakable, conceding only two goals and amassing an opponent scoreless streak of over 354 minutes. KU was allowing less than seven opponent shots per match and under 40 percent of those were on target. In the next nine outings, Kansas’ defense struggled. In games 9-17, the Jayhawks allowed 16 goals, which included six matches with multiple shots finding the back of the net. KU opponents also averaged 10 shots per game over those nine contests, a nearly three shot increase compared to the first half of the season.
Those struggles may largely be attributed to a brutal stretch that the Jayhawks were forced to endure over the latter half of September and October. The Jayhawks’ opponents during this stretch have been anything but a breeze, with seven of KU’s last nine foes boasting a combined record of 80-30-9.
TURNING THINGS AROUND
With one regular-season game and the postseason remaining, the 2018 Jayhawks are looking to construct an impressive turnaround from 2017, having already surpassed last season’s win total. Last year, Kansas won eight games and drew three times, while this year’s team has already picked up 10 victories and still has four regular-season game to go. Mark Francis-coached KU squads have been known to improve coming off below average seasons. In his first 19 seasons in Lawrence, Francis’ Kansas teams have won fewer than 10 games on five occasions, but in all but one of the following years, the Jayhawks rebounded with 11 or more victories and an NCAA Tournament berth.
Francis is no stranger to monumental turnarounds. After a 2-17-0 season during his first season at South Alabama in 1996, he led the Jaguars to an 18-3-1 mark during the 1997 season. The 16-win turnaround is still the biggest in NCAA Division I soccer history. His largest rebound at KU came in 2014, when the Jayhawks posted a 15-win campaign a year after claiming just seven wins.
With their final regular-season match 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’ match at Baylor on Oct. 21, KU has played 45 regular-season games away from Rock Chalk Park since the start of the 2014 season, amassing a record of 21-16-8, 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.
FRANCIS CLAIMS 250TH COLLEGIATE WIN
The Jayhaws’ win over TCU on Oct. 12 gave head coach Mark Francis victory No. 250 as a head coach at the NCAA DI level. His first win came as the head man at South Alabama on Sept. 29, 1996 with a 9-0 drubbing of Northwestern State, since then he has averaged nearly 11 wins per season during his first 22 years roaming the sideline.
He has now amassed a record of 250-184-34 over his 23 seasons as a collegiate coach, with 217 of those wins coming in 20 years at Kansas. The veteran became one of just 49 active head coaches in NCAA DI to have reached the 250-win milestone. Francis’ teams have made seven NCAA Tournament appearances, claimed three conference regular-season titles and have notched 12 or more victories eight times.
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 features eight teams that competed in the NCAA Tournament a year ago as well as four reigning conference champions. The Jayhawks, sitting at 10-5-2 after their first 17 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 three squads inside the top-17.
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 final stretch of Big 12 Conference play still to come. The conference currently features seven teams that are ranked or receiving votes in the Coaches’ poll and that includes No. 13 Baylor, No. 16 West Virginia, and No. 17 Texas. The Big 12’s winning percentage, 61.4 percent, after the first nine weeks of the season ranks fourth out of the 31 DI conferences.
LATE MATCH MAGIC
The Jayhawks have been clutch in crunch time during the first half of the 2018 campaign. Ten of the Jayhawks’ 23 goals scored thus far have come in the 60th minute or later. That number includes seven goals Kansas has tallied in the final 10 minutes of regulation or in overtime.
The Jayhawks have come out on top in five of those matches that have seen Kansas score in the 80th minute or later. KU has netted three golden goals already in 2018, two off the boot of junior forward Katie McClure and the most recent from junior defender Eva Eliasdottir in KU’s 2-1 win over TCU (10/12). McClure scored overtime game-winners against Utah (8/31) and Oklahoma (9/21), which are included in her five game-winners this season. Those five game-winning strikes rank her first among Big 12 players and are fifth-most be a Jayhawk in school history.
McClure and Eliasdottir’s golden goals have given Kansas three 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. The 2015 and 2018 squads now share the program record for overtime wins in a season with three.
LET’S GET DEFENSIVE
In their 17 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 1.01 this year, which encompasses seven shutouts in those 17 outings. The Jayhawks are allowing just eight opponent shots per match, which includes seven games that they held their opponents to seven or fewer attempts.
KU has already put together two impressive shutout streaks 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. KU recently wrapped up a 242-minute shutout stretch in the heart of Big 12 play.
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 five players who have posted 20 or more attempts.
With the release of the season’s third Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) report by the NCAA this week, several good signs stick out for the Jayhawks. Kansas checked in at No. 30 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 sixth-straight week the Jayhawks found themselves in the top-30 after being slotted at No. 25 last week.
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 seven of its 10 teams inside the top-41.
Senior forward Grace Hagan is trying 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 25 career goals currently rank her fifth on Kansas’ all-time goal scorer chart and her 14 career assists also have her at No. 11 on KU’s all-time assists list.
FIRST TO SCORE, WINS GALORE
Dating back to the beginning of the 2012 season, now at 140 games, Kansas has developed an interesting trend when it comes to which team tallies the first goal of the match. During that 140-game span, the Jayhawks were on the losing end only four times in contests which they put in the match’s first goal. Kansas has amassed a record of 63-4-8 in those games (90.5 winning %), which included a 6-1-2 mark last year and a 7-2-1 mark this season.
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 140-game span when finding itself trailing 1-0 at any point in a match. Kansas is now 8-49-4 in those games over the last five seasons, which includes three of its five losses this season.
The Jayhawks have clinched a spot in next week’s Big 12 Championship, which will be at Swope Soccer Village hosted in Kansas City, Mo. Kansas will play in the tournament quarterfinals on Sunday, Oct. 28. A win in the quarterfinal match would advance KU to the semifinals to play on Friday, Nov. 2.
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