No. 19 Kansas to meet unbeaten Billikens Friday
Sophomore Taylor Christie
|Game 7: at Saint Louis|
|Robert R. Hermann Stadium (6,050)|
|Shot on Goal %||.514||.500|
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The 19th-ranked Kansas soccer team will journey to St. Louis, Missouri to start another difficult weekend when they take on the unbeaten Billikens Friday night at Robert R. Hermann Stadium. The Jayhawks, winners of five-straight games and freshly anointed in the top-25 of the national rankings, will kick off against SLU (6-0-0) at 7 p.m.
ABOUT THE JAYHAWKS
After suffering its worst loss in over two years in its season-opener against Nebraska, it’s safe to say the Kansas soccer team has rebounded, reeling off five straight victories in its five contests since, which includes a 2-1 win over the defending NCAA Champion USC Trojans on Sept. 3. In that five-game span, KU outscored its opponents 11-1 and put together a shutout streak of 450-straight minutes without allowing an opponent goal. This week Kansas entered the top-25 over several major nation polls for the first time, checking in at No. 19 in the United Soccer Coaches poll as well as 22nd in the Top Drawer Soccer rankings.
After a quiet season-opening match against Nebraska, the Jayhawk offense has come alive in its five most recent outings, posting multiple goals in all five of those contests. KU has tallied 11 goals and is averaging just over 12 shots per outing. Sophomore Sophie Maierhofer has already netted three goals to lead the Jayhawks and is joined by six teammates who have entered the score sheet in 2017. Junior Grace Hagan, a member of the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List, has netted a pair of goals and leads the squad with three assists.
Since conceding three goals in the opener versus Nebraska, the KU defense has been stellar in its five matches since. KU has allowed just one goal, (a penalty to USC) in its last 471 minutes and has held three of its last five opponents to eight shots or fewer. Senior Maddie Dobyns, was Kansas’ starting keeper in each match. She has collected 22 saves and amassed a save percentage of .846. Her 0.67 goals-against average is among the top-65 of NCAA DI goalkeepers.
ABOUT THE BILLIKENS
Located in St. Louis, Missouri with an enrollment of 12,949, SLU enters Friday’s match off to its best start in program history, reeling off six-straight wins to begin its season. Saint Louis returned seven starters and 17 letterwinners from the squad that went 14-4-2 and finished second in the Atlantic 10 in 2016.
SLU has had a potent offense during its first three weeks of action, scoring 16 goals in six games and averaging over 18 shots per game. The Billikens have also put 50 percent of their tries on target. Saint Louis has seen five different players already net multiple goals and has seen 10 different players tally multiple shots. Junior midfielder Maddie Pokorny leads the way with four goals and an assist, while sophomore forward Alyssa Seitzer has tallied five assists and a team-leading 19 shots.
SLU’s has already notched five shutouts and has allowed only two goals in its first six matches. Billiken opponents have averaged eight shots per game and only three shots on goal per match. In goal, Mary Niehaus has started between the posts for each match. In six starts, Niehaus has allowed two goals and made 13 saves and amassed a save percentage of .867.
Head coach Katie Shields is currently in her fifth year at the helm of the Saint Louis program, having amassed a record of 42-33-7. Shields, who served as a Billiken assistant coach in 2012, was named the third head coach in program history on Jan. 15, 2013.
The Jayhawks look primed to continue their trend of 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 three-plus years. KU has played 30 regular-season road games since the start of the 2014 season, amassing a record of 16-10-4, which included a 4-3-3 record last year and already a 2-0 mark this season following the win at Oregon State on Aug. 28. The Jayhawks hope they can continue this trend over the next three weeks, with six of their next seven matches away from Lawrence.
LAST TIME OUT
The Jayhawks led the defending NCAA Champions for nearly 80 minutes and were able to hold off a late surge to top the No. 7-ranked USC Trojans, 2-1, Sunday night at Rock Chalk Park. Sophomore Katie McClure netted her first goal of the season in the 12th minute, while a Trojan own goal handed KU its second goal of the match in the 69th minute.
For the third time in its last four games, Kansas found the back of the net within the opening 15 minutes. With KU on the attack, junior Grace Hagan used some fancy footwork to evade a defender and send a low pass toward the heart of the USC penalty area. McClure managed to get a foot on the pass just inside the six-yard box and sneak a shot past the Trojan goalkeeper. Some fortune came the Jayhawks’ way in the 69th minute when USC’s Ally Prisock played a pass back to her own keeper, Kaylie Collins. The pass took an awkward skip and got past the Trojan goal keeper and rolled harmlessly over the goal line, putting the Jayhawks up by two goals.
Following five-straight wins, four of which were shutouts, and a victory over the seventh-ranked team in the nation, the voters for several national polls showed their appreciation for the Jayhawks’ work thus far in 2017, moving them from unranked into the top-25. Kansas made its third appearance in four seasons in the United Soccer Coaches’ poll when it posted KU at No. 19 this week. KU’s highest all-time ranking in that poll (formerly the NSCAA Coaches’ poll) was No. 6 during the 2004 season. The Jayhawks also peaked inside the top-10 during their 2014 campaign, climbing as high as No. 9. Last season, Kansas found itself among the top-25 during two weeks of the 2016 campaign, checking in at 24th on Oct. 30. The Top Drawer Soccer rankings as well as the Soccer America chart also have KU as one of the best 25 teams in the nation, sitting KU 22nd and 25th, respectively.
MORE ON THE KANSAS UPSET OF USC
The Jayhawks defeat of the defending national champion, USC, was monumental for several reasons. Not only was Kansas able to extend its winning streak to five games, its longest since 2014, but also notched its first victory over a top-10 team since 2012, as the Trojans sat at No. 7 on the day of the match. Here are more notes on the Jayhawks win over the Trojans:
- The win gave Kansas its fifth win all-time against a top-10 ranked opponent and its first against nonconference team at home.
- KU’s last victory over a top-10 team came on Sept. 21, 2012, when the Jayhawks topped No. 7 Oklahoma State, 2-1, in Lawrence.
- Katie McClure’s goal in the 12th minute marked the first time USC had trailed in a match since its final regular-season game of 2016 on Nov. 4. Prior to McClure’s strike, the Trojans went 742-straight minutes without finding themselves behind in a match.
- Kansas was one of three Big 12 schools that tallied unbeaten results against top-12 opponents last weekend. West Virginia beat No. 1 Penn State, 2-1, while Oklahoma State tallied a 2-2 draw against No. 12 Texas A&M.
- The match marked the first time in program history Kansas played a team coming off a national championship the year prior. The Jayhawks would end up playing three of the four College Cup squads during their 2016 season: USC (L, 0-2), West Virginia (L, 0-1) and North Carolina (L, 0-2).
HOME SWEET HOME
Rock Chalk Park will be a welcome site to the Jayhawks this weekend as KU is coming off a successful three-year stint playing on its home turf. The Jayhawks are 22-9-2 in matches played at home since the start of the 2014 campaign. From 2013-14, Kansas also enjoyed an 11-match home winning streak, the longest in program history. Since the start of 2014, KU has amassed a goal differential of +23 against its foes at home, averaging 1.5 goals per match. The Kansas defense has held opponents to a goals-against average of 0.80 on its home turf in that same span, which includes 13 shutouts.
LET’S GET DEFENSIVE
In their last five matches, the Jayhawks have once again proved to be a stout defensive team, carrying over the trend from their last several seasons. Kansas currently boasts a goals-against average of 0.67 this season, which includes four shutouts in six outings. The Jayhawks are allowing just over 10 opponent shots per match, which includes three games when KU opponents sent in eight or fewer attempts. Over their last 69 matches (dating back to the start of the 2014 season), the Jayhawks shutout 24 opponents and boast a goals-against average of 0.91. Kansas conceded 65 opponent goals in that span and has allowed one opponent goal or less in 26 of its last 31 matches.
KU has already posted of an impressive shutout streak early this season. From Aug. 18-Sept. 3, Kansas went 450-straight minutes without conceding a goal. The figure is the third-longest in school history and marks the fourth time over the last six seasons the Jayhawks have tallied an opponent scoreless streak of 340 minutes or longer.
TOP-10 TEAMS BEWARE
The Jayhawks will take the pitch on Sunday against its second top-10 opponent in seven days when No. 10 Texas A&M heads to Lawrence. This match will mark the 12th time Kansas will host a top-10 opponent in Lawrence. Following its win over No. 7 USC on Sept. 3, KU has now picked up three wins over top-10 squads on its home turf since 2008. The Jayhawks topped No. 7 Oklahoma State, 2-1, in 2012 and also claimed a 1-0 victory over No. 6 Texas A&M during the 2008 season. That victory over the Aggies still stands as the highest-ranked opponent ever defeated by the Jayhawks.
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.
FEEDING ON NONCON
This season, the Jayhawks will try to make it 10-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 37-16-6 mark in its 59 regular-season nonconference matches (68%), which includes a 25-9-3 mark since 2014. In the last six seasons, KU has outscored noncon opponents by a tally of 101-54. Mark Francis has led KU to a winning record in noncon in 17 of his first 18 seasons in Lawrence and is now 116-48-10 in regular season nonconference games.
Senior Kayla Morrison has continued an impressive streak into her final year in Lawrence as she has started all 68 of the Jayhawks’ matches since her freshman year in 2014. Morrison’s mark is already among the longest in program history as it’s fifth on the all-time list among field players. If the Corona, California product is in the starting lineup in each of Kansas’ final 14 regular-season games, she would move to a tie for third on that list with 82-straight starts. In fact, Morrison hasn’t even been subbed out of a game in 2,006 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.
JUST ONE WILL DO IT
The Jayhawks continue to carry on an impressive trend that has developed over the last five seasons when it comes to scoring. Since the start of the 2012 campaign, the Kansas soccer team scored at least one goal in 73 matches. The Jayhawks’ record in those matches: 58-8-8. Kansas won or tied all but eight matches in which it scored, including a 26-3-5 record in those instances since the 2015 season, and already a 5-0-0 record this year.
FIRST TO SCORE, WINS GALORE
Over its past 109 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 109-game span, the Jayhawks were on the losing end only once in contests which they put in the match’s first goal. Kansas has amassed a record of 55-1-5 in those games, which included a 10-0-2 mark last season and already a 5-0 mark this year. The Jayhawks’ win over USC on Sept. 3 was their 50th-consecutive unbeaten match 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 Tech on Sept. 23 of last season marked just the third victory for the Jayhawks in that same 109-game span when finding itself trailing 1-0 at any point in a match. Kansas is now 3-39-3 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 their lone loss to Nebraska in the first weekend of this season.
EXPERIENCE VS. YOUTH
The 2017 edition of the Jayhawks will be a youthful bunch, with 16 of the 25-woman roster boasting only one season of collegiate experience or less. There are eight newcomers on this season’s roster, including seven true freshmen, who the coaches are leaning on to contribute almost immediately. The squad will feature five seniors, one of whom is in her fifth year. Four of the five members of the 2017 senior class have played in at least 39 matches.
JAYHAWKS PICKED TO FINISH SECOND IN PRESEASON BIG 12 POLL
Kansas soccer was predicted to finish second in the 2017 league standings according to the Big 12 preseason coaches’ poll which was released Aug. 9. The ranking marked the highest Kansas has been picked to finish since the preseason coaches’ poll began in 2000.
Five-time defending league champion West Virginia was the coaches’ unanimous choice to win the conference, receiving eight first-place votes and 81 points overall. The Mountaineers were followed by Kansas (71), Oklahoma (57), Texas Tech (55), Baylor (47), Oklahoma State (38), TCU (37), Texas (32), Iowa State (23) and Kansas State (9).
HAGAN NAMED TO MAC HERMANN TROPHY WATCH LIST
Kansas junior Grace Hagan was one of 30 women in Division I NCAA soccer to be selected to the Watch List for the Missouri Athletic Club’s (MAC) Hermann Trophy, which is awarded to the nation’s most valuable collegiate soccer player every season.
Hagan, who hails from Wichita, Kansas, enters this season coming off a stellar sophomore campaign in 2016. An honoree on the NSCAA All-Central Region First Team, Hagan scored a team-high seven goals and added four assists to combine for 18 total points on the year, the fifth-most in the Big 12 Conference. She was also selected to the All-Big 12 First Team. She added a pair of game-winning goals on the year and helped the Jayhawks to their best conference finish in over a decade, finishing 5-1-2 in league play and aided Kansas to the program’s seventh NCAA Tournament appearance. Hagan is six goals shy from moving into the top-10 of Kansas’ all-time goal scorers list.
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.
The Jayhawks will play their final home match of the nonconference season when KU takes on former Big 12 foe, No. 10 Texas A&M, at Rock Chalk Park on Sunday, Sept. 10. The game, which will pit Kansas against its second top-10 team in a span of seven days, is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. and will be televised on Spectrum Sports and ESPN3.
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