No. 24 Kansas and No. 15 Cowgirls set for Sunday matinee
Senior Kaycie Young
|Game 11: vs. Oklahoma State|
|Rock Chalk Park (2,500)|
|Shot on Goal %||.369||.453|
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The No. 24 Kansas Jayhawks will welcome their third top-25 opponent to Rock Chalk Park this season when the No. 15 Oklahoma State Cowgirls come to Lawrence on Sunday, Sept. 23. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m., and will be broadcast on ESPN+.
- The Jayhawks found themselves ranked in the United Soccer Coaches poll for the fifth-straight week, checking in at No. 24. It marks KU’s longest stint in the top-25 since 2014.
- Kansas was slotted at No. 13 in the season’s first Rating Percentage Index (RPI) released by the NCAA this week. It marked the highest RPI ranking for the Jayhawks since 2014, when KU reached No. 12.
- Seven of the Jayhawks’ 16 goals scored this season have come in the 60th minute of later. That number includes four goals Kansas has tallied in the final five minutes of regulation or overtime.
- Forward Katie McClure has kicked off her junior year with six goals and three assists, and has already twice been named the Big 12’s Offensive Player of the Week. Her 15 points are tied for second in the Big 12 this season.
- KU recently wrapped up its longest unbeaten streak in program history. The Sept. 16 loss at Texas A&M marked the Jayhawks’ first in its previous nine outings dating back to the final match of last season.
- Senior Grace Hagan tallied three goals in KU’s 3-2 win over Saint Louis on Sept. 14. It marked the first hat trick of Hagan’s career and the first by a Jayhawk since 2008.
- The KU defense has amassed a goals-against average of 0.74 after its first nine outings, a number that ranks the Jayhawks second in the Big 12 and 16th in the NCAA.
- Staying on defense, the KU back line has held its first 10 opponents to an average of 7.5 shots per game, which includes five matches when the Jayhawks conceded seven or fewer shots. Kansas’ five shutouts are the 24th-most in the nation.
ABOUT THE JAYHAWKS
Kansas is ranked No. 24 by the United Soccer Coaches following its best start to a season since 2014. The Jayhawks have tallied five shutouts through their first 10 outings and have been led on the offensive end by junior Katie McClure, who has posted six goals and three assists, with her 15 points second in the Big 12. The Jayhawks’ 7-1-2 start marked the third time KU has lost one or fewer matches in its first 10 outings of a season.
In addition to McClure, the Jayhawk offense enjoyed an effective start to 2018, averaging nearly 15 shots in its first 10 matches, and averaging nearly six of those shots on target per match. Five different Jayhawks have tallied double-digit shots this season and 11 different players have posted a goal or an assist. KU’s top returning goal scorer is senior Grace Hagan, who has led the team with seven goals in each of her last two seasons.
The KU defense has already showed it will be a tough match-up for most offenses in 2018, having conceded just eight goals and allowing only 75 shots in the Jayhawks’ first 10 outings. Those 10 KU opponents only put 28 of those 75 strikes on frame. Freshman Sarah Peters was the starting keeper in all 10 matches, keeping a clean sheet in five of those appearances and has collected 19 saves for a .704 save percentage.
LAST TIME OUT
With just 53 seconds remaining in the second overtime period, junior forward Katie McClure knocked in the game-winner to help the No. 24 Kansas Jayhawks top the Oklahoma Sooners, 2-1, Friday night inside Rock Chalk Park. The golden goal was the second of the season for McClure and capped a Kansas comeback that saw the Jayhawks rebound from a 1-0 first-half deficit.
It was the Sooners who quickly grabbed the momentum. Oklahoma’s Kaylee Dao headed in her team’s lone score of the evening, her fifth of the season, in the 17th minute of action. After 45 minutes of play, the Sooner goal sent Kansas to the halftime locker room with a deficit for just the second time this season.
It took KU just 15 minutes into the second frame to pull even, with junior defender Elisa Reina tallying her second goal of 2018.
After 90 minutes, the score was still even at 1-1, sending the match into KU’s fourth overtime of the season. Neither side was able to manage any dangerous attacks, that is until the final minute of the second overtime, when McClure found space inside the Oklahoma six-yard box. With the clock reading 109:07 and just moments before the night was to end in a draw, Eva Eliasdottir played an in-swinging cross into the heart of the Sooner penalty area. The service was flicked on by the head of Miriam Melugin and straight to the chest of McClure. The Jayhawks’ leading goal-scorer took one touch, turned and sent it past Crone to give her team the sudden victory.
ABOUT THE COWGIRLS
Located in Stillwater, Oklahoma with an enrollment of 24,551, the Cowgirls enter Sunday’s match having lost just one match so far in 2018 and coming off a 3-1 win over Kansas State Friday night in Manhattan. OSU, ranked No. 15 in the latest United Soccer Coaches poll, has won six-straight matches and has scored multiple goals in all nine of its victories this season.
The Oklahoma State offense has been potent in 2018, averaging 2.3 goals per game. OSU is averaging 17.0 shots per match and is putting 45 percent of those shots on frame. Marlo Zoller leads her team with five goals but four of her teammates have posted three or more goals on the season.
The Cowgirl defense has also been stout, having tallied five shutouts and a goals-against average of 0.59. OSU opponents are averaging 11.9 shots per match and are putting 34.5 percent of those attempts on frame. OSU has seen a pair of goalkeepers split time in between the posts with Hannah Warner and Dani Greenlee seeing time in each of their team’s 10 outings. Together they have turned in a goals-against average of 0.59, a save percentage of .854 and have collected 35 saves.
Colin Carmichael is in his 14th season as the head coach of the Oklahoma State women’s soccer program, amassing a record of 189-75-37.
LATE MATCH MAGIC
The Jayhawks have been clutch in crunch time during the first half of the 2018 campaign. Seven of the Jayhawks’ 16 goals scored thus far have come in the 60th minute or later. That number includes four goals Kansas has tallied in the final five minutes of regulation or overtime.
The Jayhawks have come out on top in all three of those matches that have seen Kansas score in the 85th minute or later. KU has netted a pair of golden goals already in 2018, both off the boot of junior forward Katie McClure. McClure scored overtime game-winners against Utah (8/31) and Oklahoma (9/21), which are included in her four game-winners this season. Those four game-winning strikes rank her first among Big 12 players and are fifth-most be a Jayhawk in school history.
McClure’s two golden goals have given Kansas two 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. That 2015 squad holds the program record for overtime wins in a season with three.
With the release of the first Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) report by the NCAA this week, several good signs stick out for the Jayhawks. Kansas checked in at No. 13 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 was Kansas’ highest to start the year since the weekly RPI report became public in 2011.
This week’s report shows that the Big 12 is among the nation’s toughest conferences after the conclusion of nonconference play. The league tallied the third-highest ranking in the week’s RPI and boasts five of its nine teams inside the top-50. The conference’s high ranking also means the Jayhawks will get plenty of chances to up their national standing as seven of their next eight contests will be against teams currently ranked inside the top-100 of the RPI.
LET’S TALK UNBEATEN STREAKS
The Jayhawks recently wrapped up the longest unbeaten streak in program history. Dating back to the end of last season, Kansas put together a stretch of nine matches without a loss, a mark which broke the program’s previous record set in 2014. The win over Saint Louis on Sept. 14 surpassed the 2014 team, which dished out eight-straight wins to start its season. KU’s recent streak began with a 1-1 draw to TCU at the Big 12 Championship to close out the 2017 campaign.
HOME SWEET HOME
Rock Chalk Park has been a welcome site for the Jayhawks this season, with Kansas going a perfect 6-0-0 in its first six outings on its home pitch. Including this year’s hot start, the Jayhawks are 28-12-2 in matches played at home during the regular season 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 moving into Rock Chalk Park, Kansas has built a goal differential of +25 and boasts a goals-against average of 0.88, a number that includes 15 shutouts.
HOT START HAWKS
The impressive early performance in the 2018 campaign puts this year’s Jayhawk squad among just a few other Kansas teams that have gotten their seasons off to a fast start. This bunch joins two other KU teams that suffered one or fewer losses during the first 10 games of the season.
The Jayhawks’ early success bodes well for the bunch, as each of those past two KU teams went on to make the NCAA Tournament and posted 15 or more victories Kansas logged top-three finishes in the final Big 12 standings in both of those years as well.
ROLLING THROUGH THE RANKINGS
The voters for several national polls continue to show their appreciation for KU’s work thus far in 2018, moving them from unranked in the preseason, into the top-25 for the last five-consecutive weeks.
The Jayhawks checked in as part of the United Soccer Coaches’ poll for the fifth-consecutive week, getting slotted at No. 24 on Tuesday. Kansas has now appeared in the poll in four of the last five seasons in the United Soccer Coaches’ poll. 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 one week, checking in at 19th on Sept. 5. The TopDrawerSoccer rankings also have the Jayhawks receiving votes.
LET’S GET DEFENSIVE
In their first nine 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 0.74 this season, which encompasses five shutouts in its first 10 outings. The Jayhawks are allowing just over seven opponent shots per match, which includes five games that they held their opponents to seven or fewer attempts.
KU has already put together an impressive shutout streak to start 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.
FIRST TO SCORE, WINS GALORE
Dating back to the beginning of the 2012 season, now at 133 games, Kansas has developed an interesting trend when it comes to which team tallies the first goal of the match. During that 133-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 60-2-8 in those games (91.4 winning %), which included a 6-1-2 mark last year and already a 4-0-1 mark in 2018. The Jayhawks’ loss at BYU on Sept. 18 of 2017 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 Oklahoma on Sept. 21 marked just the eighth victory for the Jayhawks in that same 133-game span when finding itself trailing 1-0 at any point in a match. Kansas is now 8-47-4 in those games over the last five seasons, which included eight of KU’s losses and a tie in 2017.
EXPERIENCE VS. YOUTH
The 2018 edition of the Jayhawks is a youthful bunch, with 16 of the 30-woman roster boasting only one season of collegiate experience or less. There are 11 newcomers on this season’s roster, including 10 true freshmen, who the coaches are leaning on to contribute almost immediately. The squad will feature four seniors, two of whom are in their fifth year.
In the midst this season’s third road trip, 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’ draw at Cincinnati on Sept. 6, KU has played 41 regular-season games away from Rock Chalk Park since the start of the 2014 season, amassing a record of 20-13-8, 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.
Senior forward Grace Hagan hopes 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 21 career goals currently rank her eighth on Kansas’ all-time goal scorer chart and her 13 career assists also have her at No. 12 on KU’s all-time assists list.
FEEDING ON NONCON
With the nonconference portion of the season in the rear view mirror, the Jayhawks have wrapped up another dominating preconference campaign. This season, KU made it 11-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 43-20-9 mark in its 72 regular-season nonconference matches (66%), which includes a 31-13-6 mark since 2014. In the last six seasons, KU has outscored noncon opponents by a tally of 120-72. Mark Francis has now led KU to a winning record in noncon in 19 of his 20 seasons in Lawrence and is 123-52-13 in regular-season nonconference games.
The Jayhawks will close out their three game homestand in a rare Saturday night match when the Iowa State Cyclones come to Lawrence on Sept. 29. Kickoff against ISU is slated for 7 p.m. at Rock Chalk Park. The match will be broadcast on ESPN+.
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