Kansas to open Big 12 Championship with TCU Wednesday
Sophomore Addisyn Merrick
|Game 20: vs. TCU|
|Swope Soccer Village (2,500)|
|Shot on Goal %||.439||.418|
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas soccer team is set to take part in the Big 12 Soccer Championship beginning Wednesday, Nov. 1 in Kansas City, Missouri. Coming off a 3-5-1 finish in the Big 12 regular-season race, the No. 6-seeded Jayhawks will meet the three-seed TCU Horned Frogs in the quarterfinal match set for 8 p.m., at Swope Soccer Village. The match can be seen via live web stream on the Big 12 Digital Network.
ABOUT THE JAYHAWKS
Kansas, sitting at 8-9-2 and 3-5-1 in the Big 12 following the conclusion of the regular season, will make its seventh-straight league tournament appearance after finishing sixth on the conference table. The Jayhawks will meet the TCU Horned Frogs in the Big 12 quarterfinals for the second-straight year. Last season, the No. 7-seed TCU upset the second-seeded Jayhawks in the opening round, 1-0.
Kansas’ offense has been up and down in its 18 outings of 2017, having scored multiple goals in nine of its contests, but also being shutout five times, four of those occasions coming in the Jayhawks’ final nine outings of the regular season. KU has tallied 25 goals and is averaging 14.3 shots per outing. Junior Grace Hagan, a member of the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List, leads the squad and the Big 12 with seven goals as well as five assists. Twelve other Jayhawks have tallied at least one goal or an assist, with five of those having amassed 24 or more shots.
The KU defense was stellar over its first seven outings of the season, conceding only five goals and posting an opponent scoreless streak of over 450 minutes in that time. However, Kansas has since allowed at least one opponent goal in each of its next 14 contests, the longest such streak by KU opponents in program history. Overall, KU opponents are posting nearly 12.6 shots per game with just under 37 percent of those ending up on target. Senior Maddie Dobyns has been Kansas’ starting keeper in each match. She has collected 58 saves and amassed a save percentage of .716. The senior has also tallied four shutouts and has amassed a goals-against average of 1.23.
ABOUT THE HORNED FROGS
Located in Fort Worth, Texas with an enrollment of 10,033, TCU enters Wednesday’s match coming of a program-record tying regular season with 12 wins and six victories in conference play. The Horned Frogs closed out the regular season with just one loss in its final six contests to secure a third-place finish on the league table.
The Horned Frog offense has been potent this season, scoring multiple goals in eight of its games, which includes three outings with four or more goals. TCU is posting 15.8 shots per game and is putting over 41 percent of those attempts on frame. Senior forward Allison Ganter leads the team with five goals and has added four assists. She is joined by four of her teammates who have posted four goals in 2017.
The TCU defense has conceded only 13 goals this season. Horned Frog opponents are averaging 8.3 shots per match and are putting 42 percent of those attempts on frame. Sophomore Katie Lund has seen the bulk of the minutes in goal for TCU. In almost 1,400 minutes she has a goals-against average of 0.45, a save percentage of .848 and has tallied 39 saves.
Eric Bell is in his sixth season as the head coach of the TCU women’s soccer program. In his first five-plus seasons with the Horned Frogs, Bell has amassed a 53-47-17 record.
In the 21 years of the Big 12 Championship, Kansas has amassed a record of 5-13-3 in its 16 appearances. This season marks the fourth time Kansas will be a No. 6 seed. The last time the Jayhawks were the No. 6 seed was 2015, when KU advanced to the tournament final. Kansas is 4-10-2 all-time in Big 12 quarterfinal games.
Kansas is in good company being the No. 6 seed. The sixth-seeded team has advanced to the Big 12 final in three of the last four years, with the championship match featuring the No.7 seed last year. The sixth-seeded team or lower has advanced to the final each of the last five years. KU is 2-3-0 all-time as the No. 6 seed.
LAST TIME OUT
Two goals off set pieces proved to be too much to overcome for the Kansas soccer team as the No. 9 West Virginia Mountaineers topped the Jayhawks, 2-0, Friday night at Rock Chalk Park. Kansas closed out Big 12 play finishing sixth on the league table and will be the No. 6 seed in this week’s Big 12 Championship.
The Mountaineers needed less than 15 minutes to net the game’s first goal. After a foul down the left side of the Jayhawks’ end of the field WVU’s Carla Portillo played a curling cross into the KU box off the impending free kick. The pass slammed off the foot of her teammate, Alli Magaletta, and was rerouted into the KU goal to give the visitors the early 1-0 lead. The Jayhawks struggled to gain momentum in the first stanza, managing just three shots during the opening 45 minutes.
In the 71st minute, West Virginia got its second goal off a set piece, this time off a corner kick. Partillo’s service found the head of Michaela Abam, who connected on her seventh goal of the season. WVU held strong for the remainder of the match, holding the Jayhawks to just two shots over the final 45 minutes of action.
Kansas soccer senior Kayla Morrison was named Co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and was one of three Jayhawks to be named to the All-Big 12 teams when the league office announced its postseason awards Monday.
Morrison, who hails from Corona, California, becomes the first Jayhawk in program history to be named the league’s defensive player of the year. She also claimed all-league honors for the third time with her selection to the second team. The senior, who was named to the All-Freshman squad three seasons ago as well as the second team last season, has been the centerpiece for a stout Kansas defense over the last four years. Morrison has been in the Jayhawks’ starting lineup in 82-straight matches, one game shy of the program record, and has helped the team to 24 shutouts in that span.
Hagan, a native of Wichita, Kansas, found herself on a Big 12 postseason team for the second-straight year. The forward played in all of KU’s 19 matches this season, scoring a team-leading seven goals, which is tied for first in the Big 12. She also dished out a team-leading five assists.
Rounding out the Kansas selections was Holland, who became the ninth KU freshman in the last seven seasons to claim a spot on the Big 12 All-Freshman Team. From West Yorkshire, England, Holland posted 32 shots, along with a goal and an assist, as she anchored the Kansas midfield in her first season in Lawrence.
The announcement means Kansas has had at least one Jayhawk on the All-Big 12 teams each year since the current format began in 2000. The three Jayhawks selected also marked the sixth-straight season three or more KU representatives were selected to the all-conference squads. Selections for the All-Big 12 teams were voted on by the league’s coaches, who were not allowed to vote for their own players.
With the release of the season’s Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) report by the NCAA this week, Kansas extended an impressive streak that it has continued to build on over the last two seasons. For 34-straight weeks, dating back to 2014, the Jayhawks have been ranked inside the top-100 on the list that takes numerous factors into account, including strength of schedule, record against top-50 teams and home versus road records.
This week’s report also shows that the Big 12 is among the nation’s toughest conferences. The league boasts seven of its 10 teams inside the top-85. The conference’s high ranking also means the Jayhawks will get plenty of chances to up their national standing during the Big 12 Championship this week.
A TALE OF TWO SEASONS
After a quick start to the 2017 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 seven matches with its seven most recent. The team began the year with only one loss in its first seven outings, but the team that took the field the next seven times had only one win. The difference in squads over those two periods of the 2017 season is apparent by much more than just looking at wins and losses.
In its first seven matches, the Kansas defense was almost unbreakable, conceding only five goals and amassing an opponent scoreless streak of over 450 minutes. KU was allowing only 10 opponent shots per match and just 43 percent of those are ending on goal. In the following seven outings, Kansas’ defense struggled. In games 8-14, the Jayhawks allowed 15 goals, which included three matches with multiple shots finding the back of the net. KU opponents also averaged 15.7 shots per game over those seven contests, a nearly six-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 month of September. KU spent 14 of the month’s 29 days on the road. The Jayhawks’ opponents in September have been anything but a breeze either, with seven of KU’s nine September foes boasting a combined record of 70-30-15.
Junior forward Grace Hagan has already put together an impressive 2017 campaign. The MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List member leads the Jayhawks with seven goals, five assists and 19 points, figures that also rank the Wichita product among the top-10 in the Big 12 in their respective categories.
Hagan is creeping closer to inserting her name among the top offensive players in Jayhawk history. Her 18 career goals currently rank her 10th on Kansas’ all-time goal scorer chart and have her only one shy from inserting her name among the school’s top-10. Hagan’s 12 career assists also have her at No. 13 on KU’s all-time assists list.
FIRST TO SCORE, WINS GALORE
Over its past 122 games, dating back to the beginning of the 2012 season, Kansas developed an interesting trend when it comes to which team tallies the first goal of the match. During that 122-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 56-2-6 in those games, which included a 10-0-2 mark last season and a 6-1-1 mark this year. The Jayhawks’ loss at BYU on Sept. 18 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 Texas on Oct. 13 marked just the fifth victory for the Jayhawks in that same 122-game span when finding itself trailing 1-0 at any point in a match. Kansas is now 5-46-4 in those games over the last four seasons, which included all six of the Jayhawks’ losses and two of their draws in 2016 as well as eight of their losses and a tie this season.
Senior Kayla Morrison has continued an impressive streak into her final year in Lawrence as she has started all 82 of the Jayhawks’ matches since her freshman year in 2014. Morrison’s mark is already among the longest in program history as it’s third on the all-time list among field players. If the Corona, California product is in the starting lineup in Kansas’ Big 12 quarterfinal game Wednesday night, she would move to a tie for first on that list with 83-straight starts. In fact, Morrison hasn’t even been subbed out of a game in 3,231 minutes. Her last stint on the bench came in a 13-minute rest at the end of the first half of KU’s 2-1 win over Valparaiso on Sept. 4, 2016. She has played every one of KU’s minutes since.
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.
FRANCIS CLAIMS WIN NO. 200 AT KANSAS
With Kansas’ 3-0 win over Central Michigan on Aug. 20, Mark Francis claimed his 200th victory as the head coach of Kansas. He has now amassed a record of 201-148-28 over his 19-year stint in Lawrence. The veteran coach has averaged just over 11 wins per season during that span. He is currently second among the active Big 12 coaches in victories behind West Virginia’s Nikki Izzo-Brown.
BIG CLEATS TO FILL
The 2017 Jayhawks are trying to fill the void left by a large group of players lost to graduation following last season. KU will have to navigate through the departure of seven players who were a part of 53 KU victories since 2012. They helped their team to a pair of top-three Big 12 finishes, its fifth-straight Big 12 tournament berth and two NCAA Tournament appearances. Combined, these seven accumulated 355 starts and played over 33,000 minutes in the Crimson and Blue. This senior class also combined for 11 goals, 23 assists and 311 shots. From 2013-16, this Jayhawk senior class amassed a record of 43-32-8. This makes it the seventh class in program history to have achieved 43 or more wins in a four-year period.
If the Jayhawks win their quarterfinal matchup, they will take on the winner of the West Virginia-Texas Tech game on Friday, Nov. 3 in the semifinal slated for 7 p.m. The match be streamed at Big12Sports.com.
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