|GM 14: Kansas vs. #3 West Virginia
||Friday, October 7
||7 p.m. Central
||Rock Chalk Park
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Notes Game Notes
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas Jayhawks will host a top-10 squad for the first time in four years when they hit the pitch against the third-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers on Friday, Oct. 7. The Jayhawks are looking to move to 4-0 in league play, while the Mountaineers are trying to extend their regular-season Big 12 unbeaten streak to 18 games. Kickoff from Rock Chalk Park is set for 7 p.m., and can be streamed at KUAthletics.com.
About the Jayhawks
Kansas is coming off a 1-0 win at Texas on Sunday afternoon, which marked the Jayhawks’ seventh unbeaten result in its last eight outings. The Jayhawks’ lone loss over the last four weekends came at the hands of the USC Trojans, who are now ranked seventh in the NCAA. Over its last eight outings KU has scored 13 goals and has a goals-against average of 0.85.
The Jayhawk offense has gained momentum over the last month, scoring 13 goals in its last eight games and averaging over 16 shots per game in that span. Fifteen different Jayhawks have tallied at least five shots during their first 13 matches, with 11 players boasting a goal or an assist. Sophomore Grace Hagan leads the team with her five goals and 37 shots. Hagan, along with freshman Katie McClure, have combined for nearly a third of the team’s shots, with 67 between the two Wichita natives.
The KU defense, which is coming off its fourth shutout of the year, has allowed 11 goals in 2016. The Jayhawks have held their opponents to an average of just 11 shots per game and a total of 52 shots on frame (4 per game). The KU defense has allowed one opponent goal or fewer in 15 of its last 17 outings dating back to last season. Junior Maddie Dobyns has started in goal for the Jayhawks 11 times in 2016. As the KU goalkeeper this year she has amassed a goals-against average of 0.73, has collected 29 saves and has tallied three shutouts.
About the Mountaineers
West Virginia will enter the match Friday in the midst of another stellar season, suffering just one loss and one draw through its first 12 outings. The four-time defending Big 12 Champions have not lost a regular-season conference game since 2013 and extended that streak to 18 games after home wins over Baylor and Oklahoma last weekend to open league play. WVU has played four matches away from home this season, going 3-0-1 in those games.
The Mountaineer offense has been potent this season, scoring multiple goals in nine of its 12 games which includes each of its last three outings. WVU is leading the NCAA with its 22.3 shots per game and is putting just over nine percent of those in for goals. West Virginia has also managed to put over 40 percent of those 22.3 shots per game on target. Junior forward Michaela Abam leads her team and the Big 12 with seven goals and 56 shots, while junior midfielder Carla Portillo is tops on the squad in assists with five.
The WVU defense has also been stout, conceding just six goals thus far, and just two in its last five outings. Mountaineer opponents are averaging just 6.9 shots per match but are putting over under 44 percent of those attempts on frame. Freshman Rylee Foster has started in goal for WVU in nine matches. Foster has turned in a goals-against average of 0.44, a save percentage of .846 and has tallied 22 saves.
Nikki Izzo-Brown is in her 21st season as the head coach of the West Virginia women’s soccer program, amassing a record of 296-102-45. In her previous 20 seasons, Izzo-Brown has coached 20 All-Americans, 18 Academic All-Americans and 18 conference players of the year.
LAST TIME OUT
With less than five minutes remaining in regulation, freshman Katie McClure slotted home her fourth goal of the year to help the Jayhawks to a 1-0 victory over the Texas Longhorns Sunday at Mike A. Myers Stadium. Kansas moved its current unbeaten streak to four games and sits atop the Big 12 standings after the first two weekends of conference play.
After playing more than 85 minutes of scoreless soccer, Kansas came up with its latest goal of the season with a senior-to-freshman connection. Senior Jackie Georgoulis played a ball into the heart of the Texas penalty area, perfectly timing the service to McClure, who had snuck in behind the UT defense. McClure took one touch to corral the ball before sending in a right-footed stab that flew into the back of the net. The goal was the fourth of the year for the Wichita product, the fifth assist of 2016 for Georgoulis, and all but secured Kansas’ third-straight victory to start conference play.
With the release of the season’s several Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) report by the NCAA this week, several good signs stick out for the Jayhawks. Kansas checked in at No. 25 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 highest for the Jayhawks since Nov. 2, 2014, when Kansas sat at 19th in the RPI.
One area that may be helping Kansas in its climb up the national charts is its strength of schedule. The Jayhawks currently hold the nation’s 27th-toughest schedule, according to the RPI. Four future or past KU opponents currently find themselves in the top-20 of this week’s index, while a total of 10 are sitting in the top-50. In this week’s NSCAA Coaches’ poll, seven Jayhawk opponents are ranked or receiving votes.
This week’s report also shows that the Big 12 is among the nation’s toughest conferences after the conclusion of nonconference play. The league boasts eight of its nine teams inside the top-101. The conference’s high ranking also means the Jayhawks will get plenty of chances to up their national standing as three of their next five contests will be against teams currently ranked inside the top-50 of the RPI.
MESSIN’ WITH TEXAS
In its first 20 years as a program, the state of Texas proved to be a tough place to play for a host of Jayhawk squads, that is until the 2014 season and forward. Prior to 2014, Kansas amassed an overall record of 11-30-8 in matches played inside the Lone Star State, resulting in a win percentage of just .306. Since the start of 2014 though, the Jayhawks turned that trend on its head, going 7-1-0. KU’s loss to Texas Tech in Lubbock last season brought the longest “Lone Star State” winning streak in program history to an end at five.
Regardless of where they are playing, the Jayhawks have been pests to Texas schools over the last two-plus seasons. In its 18 games against Texas schools, KU has amassed a record of 13-4-1, a goal differential of +13 and a goals-against average of 0.65.
Kansas will have one more chance this season to pick up a win inside Texas. KU will journey to take on Baylor on Oct. 23. KU has won each of its last four match-ups with the Bears.
A TALE OF TWO SEASONS
After a relatively slow start to the 2016 campaign, the Jayhawks are starting to pick up steam, and nothing demonstrates this fact better than comparing the team’s first five matches, with their eight most recent. The team began the year with only two victories in its first five outings, while the team that took the field the last eight times has suffered just one defeat. The difference in squads over those two periods of the 2016 season is apparent by much more than just looking at wins and losses.
In its first five matches, the Kansas offense endured several stagnant stretches, netting only four goals and posting a scoreless streak of more than 200 minutes. KU was posting over 16 shots per match but putting less than 35 percent of those on goal. Since then though, Kansas’ offense has gained momentum. In its next eight games, the Jayhawks shot in 13 goals, which were scored by seven different players. KU has also averaged nearly over 16 shots in those eight outings and has put over 38 percent of them on target.
GO TO THE CORNER!
With the first 13 regular season matches in the books, the Jayhawks have worked their way to near the top of NCAA ranks in an important statistical category, corner kicks. Kansas is earning 6.9 corners per match, a figure that is second in the Big 12 and has been topped by only 13 other teams in the NCAA. The Jayhawks have earned 10 or more corners in three matches this season, and fewer than five on only three occasions.
If the Jayhawks continue this pace for the remainder of the season, they would finish the regular season with around 125 corners. That mark would come close to the program record of 128 set in 2005. Last year, Kansas broke the 100-corner mark for the first time since that record year in 2005, and appears primed to achieve that milestone again this season.
On the flip side, Jayhawk opponents are earning only 3.5 corner kicks per match, the third fewest among Big 12 teams this year.
With the Jayhawks currently boasting a 41-match unbeaten streak in games they score first, it’s important for Kansas to look to get on the board early. The 2016 squad has done just that, with 10 of Kansas’ 16 goals coming in the first half and six of those netted in the first 20 minutes of action. Katie McClure’s eventual game-winner against UMKC on Sept. 11, which came just 2:46 into the match, sits as the earliest KU strike so far this season.
This is almost a complete reversal when comparing to the KU squad from a year ago. The 2015 Jayhawks scored 16 of their 24 goals in the second half or later, nine of which came after the 75th minute. Last year’s squad also netted just two goals within the opening 20 minutes of a match.
With any veteran laden team, there are bound to be some impressive career streaks established and the 2016 Jayhawks are no different. One streak that shows the continuity and consistency of this KU crew is the amount of consecutive games started. Nine Jayhawks boast active or former stretches of 25-straight matches started or longer. This includes junior Kayla Morrison, whose streak sits at 55-straight starts for Kansas.
Morrison’s mark is already among the longest in program history as it sits 10th on the all-time list among field players. If the Corona, California product is in the starting lineup in each of Kansas’ final five 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. Eleven 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 five or more shots and, while sophomore Grace Hagan and freshman Katie McClure have notched nearly a third of the team’s total shots (67), seven of their teammates have added double-digit attempts to the team’s total of 213.
This is a trend is an improvement from last year’s squad which was also an unselfish bunch, as 11 different players managed to post double-figure shots and 10 Jayhawks tallied at least one goal or assist in 2015.
The Jayhawks have continued their trend of relatively strong performances in matches away from Rock Chalk Park. Kansas can hang its hat on an impressive record in road games over the past two-plus years. KU has played 26 regular-season matches away from home since the start of the 2014 season, amassing a record of 14-9-3, which included a 4-2-2 this season.
The Jayhawks will hope they can continue this trend for the home stretch of Big 12 play, with two of their final three matches away from Lawrence.
FEEDING ON NONCON
With the conclusion of the nonconference portion of their season, the Jayhawks have made it nine-straight years with a .500 winning percentage or better against regular-season nonconference foes. Since the start of the 2012 season, Kansas has posted an impressive 32-15-6 mark in its 53 regular-season nonconference matches (66%), which includes a 20-8-3 mark since 2014. In the last five seasons, KU has outscored noncon opponents by a tally of 91-50.
Mark Francis has led KU to a winning record in noncon in 17 of his 18 seasons in Lawrence and is now 111-47-10 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 0.81 following its first 13 matches, which includes four shutouts. The Jayhawks are also allowing just 11 opponent shots per match, which includes three games when KU opponents sent in seven or fewer attempts. Over their last 55 matches (dating back to the start of the 2014 season), the Jayhawks shutout 18 opponents and boasted a goals-against average of 0.93. Kansas has conceded only 53 opponent goals in that span and has allowed one opponent goal or less in 15 of its last 17 matches.
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
Already in 2016 the Jayhawks have continued 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 64 matches. The Jayhawks’ record in those matches: 50-8-6. 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, and an 8-1-2 record this year.
FIRST TO SCORE, WINS GALORE
Over its past 95 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 95-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 47-1-5 in those games, which included an 8-0-1 mark last year and a 7-0-2 mark so far this season. The Jayhawks’ win over Texas on Sunday marked their 41st-consecutive unbeaten match when they have scored first.
On the flip side, KU hasn’t been quite as fortunate when its opponents have gotten on the board first. Kansas’ win over Texas Tech on Sept. 23 marked just the third victory for the Jayhawks in that same 95-game span when finding itself trailing 1-0 at any point in a match. The Jayhawks are now 3-35-1 in those games over the last four seasons, which includes all three of the Jayhawks’ losses thus far in 2016.
Kansas will be back on the pitch at Rock Chalk Park Sunday when the Jayhawks do battle with the Oklahoma State Cowgirls. KU and OSU are slated to kickoff at 1 p.m., and will be televised on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel and ESPN3.
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