⚽️ Watts Leads the Jayhawks to the Big 12 Tournament
LAWRENCE, Kan. — Freshman Lexi Watts scored two goals to lead the Kansas Jayhawks to a 2-0 win over the Iowa State Cyclones on Senior Night at Rock Chalk Park. With the win, Kansas qualified for the Big 12 Championship for the first time since the Jayhawks won it in 2019.
“I told the group when I talked to them, you really find out the character of people when things don’t go the way you planned or things don’t go right,” Head Coach Mark Francis said. “We have had a lot of injuries this year, season-ending injuries, not like kids have been out and coming back, its season-ending injuries. The rest of the group has had to step up and some kids who wouldn’t have played as much have played tons of minutes and have done really well. I think when those opportunities come around you have a choice, you either step in and take the advantage of it or you crumble under the pressure. I’m really proud of the group that stepped up to perform under difficult circumstances that have been tough.”
The Jayhawks had some opportunities early on in the match. In the 21st minute, super-senior Rylan Childers had a powerful shot that went just wide of the left goalpost.
Thirteen minutes later, freshman Lexi Watts was able to put the Jayhawks ahead in the 34th minute. After a turnover in the box by the Cyclones, Watts drilled the ball over the goalkeeper’s head and into center of the net. The goal was Watts’ fifth goal of the season. The Jayhawks had a 5-3 shot advantage over the Cyclones in the first half and went into halftime ahead 1-0.
The second half was back and forth for both teams, however Kansas would strike again. Watts came through for a second time when she scored another goal in the 69th minute. Watts received the ball just past midfield and dribbled it ahead, before ripping a shot from about 25 yards out into the top right corner of the net to give KU a 2-0 lead.
“I couldn’t have done it without the team,” Watts said. “It’s a team effort, but we are super happy and we are ready to get to the tournament.”
Kansas had a 9-6 shot advantage for the game with a 4-1 edge in shots on goal. Kansas collected its fifth shutout of the season, while Kansas goalkeeper redshirt freshman Havyen Harrison collected her first career clean sheet.
Kansas improved to 9-8-2 this season and 2-5-2 in conference, while Iowa State dropped to 3-10-4 overall and 0-7-2 in Big 12 play.
Kansas travels to Round Rock, Texas, this weekend for a quarterfinals matchup in the Big 12 Championship against TCU. The match will kickoff at approximately 5:30 p.m. CT and be broadcast on Big 12 NOW on ESPN+.