Trojans outlast Jayhawks, 2-0
LOS ANGELES – A pair of Trojan goals in the second half spelled doom for Kansas soccer as the Jayhawks fell to Southern California, 2-0, Friday evening at McAlister Field. KU was outshot for just the third time this season with the help of a 14-5 USC advantage in the second half.
The loss dropped the Jayhawks to 5-3-1 on the year and snapped Kansas’ three-match winning streak. The Trojans moved to 6-2-0 in their 2016 campaign and claimed their fifth-straight shutout win.
“I was really proud of how we competed today,” said head coach Mark Francis. “I felt like we had a good game plan and the kids executed it exactly the way we wanted. We really made it tough on them for a good part of the game but, unfortunately, good teams like that take advantage of mistakes and they did that on two of our mistakes. It’s going to be really important for us to move on from this, recover, and play well at Pepperdine on Sunday. We need to get a good result out of that one.”
Playing a USC squad that hadn’t allowed a goal in over eight hours of match action, the Jayhawks didn’t seem intimidated as they created several stellar scoring chances over the first 45 minutes of the match. Less than 20 minutes into the game sophomore Lois Heuchan was inches away from sending in her first goal of the season. Senior Tayler Estrada played a low, darting pass through the Trojan box that made it all the way to Heuchan, who near the far post. The Castle Douglas, Scotland product used one touch to redirect the ball toward the wide open USC frame, however the shot sailed just high of the cross bar, keeping the match scoreless at 0-0.
In the 38th minute, Ashley Pankey came off the KU bench and immediately made her presence felt. The senior forward used some impressive footwork to beat a defender near the corner of the USC box before she let loose a strike that skidded off the top let corner of the goal frame.
KU and USC took the 0-0 stalemate into the halftime locker room.
It was the home side that came out of the locker room with some aggressiveness. Just 63 seconds into the second half a poor clearance by the KU defense resulted in USC midfielder Leah Pruitt gaining possession 20 yards in front of the Jayhawk goal. Pruitt let loose a shot that sailed into the back of the net to break the tie and put her team ahead.
Despite falling behind, the Jayhawks continued to battle and saw another prime opportunity just one minute after the Trojan goal. Freshman Katie McClure got in behind the USC defense and found herself with a one-on-one chance versus the Trojan keeper. McClure got a shot off from 15 yards out but the goalkeeper was there to send it the other way and keep Kansas off the board.
The Jayhawk defense thwarted numerous Trojan attacks over the remaining 40 minutes, however the home team put the game out of reach with its second goal in the 87th minute. An unfortunate deflection off a Jayhawk defender put the ball at the feet of USC’s Sydney Sladek, who sent it home for her second goal of the season.
The match ended moments later with KU losing just its second match in its last eight outings. Heuchan led the team with her three shots on the night. Redshirt freshman Regan Gibbs earned her first-career start in goal for the Jayhawks. The Naches, Washington native tallied four saves and faced 21 USC shots in the loss.
The Jayhawks will remain on the California coast over the weekend to play a Sunday afternoon match against the Pepperdine Waves in Malibu. Kickoff is slated for 3 p.m. (CT).
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