No. 25 Utah halts Kansas comeback, 2-1
SALT LAKE CITY – A late push by the Jayhawks to level the match came up short as the Kansas soccer team fell to the 25th-ranked Utah Utes Friday night. Junior Grace Hagan scored her fourth goal of the season with just over two minutes to play to pull her team within a goal, but that’s as close as KU would get, dropping its second-straight match.
The loss saw Kansas go to 5-3-1 as they head into their 10th and final non-conference game of the season Monday, while the win lifted Utah to 5-2-1 in its 2017 campaign.
“I really didn’t think that was a game we deserved to lose. Unfortunately we just had a lack of focus in some situations in the first half that ended up being the difference in the game,” said head coach Mark Francis. “In the second half, we were really good. We had some good chances and created some good opportunities. I was happy with the way they competed but it’s just unfortunate that a game is decided on two set pieces. That’s soccer though.”
Utah struck twice in the first frame in front of the more than 1,700 fans in attendance at Ute Field, both off of set pieces. The first goal came off a flurry in front of goal following a corner kick in the 18th minute. Utah’s Haylee Cacciacarne knocked in the ball when a header rebounded to her after ricocheting off the post.
Fifteen minutes later, the home team struck again, this time off a long free kick from 10 yards inside the midfield stripe. The long service into the KU box was headed away from KU’s goalkeeper Maddie Dobyns as she came to corral the pass and right to Ute forward Hailey Skolmoski, who knocked in the shot on the wide open net.
The two-goal halftime deficit didn’t faze the Jayhawks though, as KU came out of the locker room intent on getting back into the match. After only being able to amass five shots in the first half, the KU attack managed to tally 14 shots over the final 45 minutes, seven of which came in the final 15 minutes of action.
After several near goals, KU finally got a stroke of good luck when a Ute handball in their own box gave the Jayhawks a penalty kick with just over two minutes to play in the match. Hagan stepped to the spot and slotted it home to cut the deficit in half and give her team a glimmer of hope as it headed into the final minute of regulation.
The goal was Hagan’s fourth of the year and the 15th of her career.
The Jayhawks tallied three shots in the final 67 seconds of regulation but none were able to find the back of the net as time expired without an equalizer.
KU ended the contest having outshot Utah by a tally of 19-12, which included a 14-6 advantage in the second half. Dobyns made five saves in the loss and defended eight Ute corner kicks.
Kansas will play a rare Monday match when the Jayhawks head to Provo to take on the BYU Cougars on Monday, Sept. 18. The match from South Field is slated to begin at 2 p.m. (CT), and will be streamed live on BYUtv. KU will then have just three days to prepare for the Big 12 opener, a Friday night contest against the TCU Horned Frogs in Fort Worth. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m., on FoxSports Southwest.
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