Jayhawks Doomed by Early Goals, Fall to Nebraska in Season Opener, 3-0
LINCOLN, Neb. – A pair of Nebraska goals in the opening 14 minutes proved to be too much for No. 23 Kansas as the Jayhawks could not dig themselves out of the early hole and fell to the Cornhuskers in the 2015 regular-season opener, 3-0, Friday night inside Barbara Hibner Stadium.
“We were obviously very slow to get going at the start of the game,” said head coach Mark Francis. “Our speed of play was way too slow in the first 15 minutes and we couldn’t get into any kind of rhythm. After the first 20 minutes though, we settled down and had some opportunities, and (the better play) was all us in the second half. We had eight shots and their keeper had to make some really nice saves. I thought there were some good things that we did, but we need to come out ready to play from the first whistle. We have to learn from today and move forward.”
It wasn’t the start the Jayhawks were hoping for as the Cornhuskers struck twice within the opening 14 minutes of the match. Nebraska’s first goal was nothing-less than spectacular after senior forward Katie Kraeutner sent in a bullet strike 25 yards from the Jayhawk frame in the ninth minute. The shot found the inside of the far left post. A ball that the KU keeper, Maddie Dobyns, had little hope of saving.
The Cornhuskers didn’t let off the gas, getting their second goal of the night just four minutes later. Senior defender Jaylyn Odermann flicked in a header after a well-placed cross found her inside the KU six-yard box. The shot slammed off the crossbar and over the end line to put the home team up by a pair of goals less than 15 minutes into the match. Kansas, which allowed multiple goals just three times all of last season, had to quickly switch into the unfamiliar come-from-behind mode early.
Despite the deficit, the Jayhawks had the better of the majority of the remaining minutes in the opening period. Freshman Grace Hagan created the best opportunity for KU in the half when she broke free in the NU box in the 21st minute. The Wichita native had only the NU keeper to beat, but her close-range shot was quickly trapped by the Cornhusker in goal and put an abrupt end the Jayhawk threat.
Nebraska saw more fortune in the half when the official awarded the home team a penalty kick in the 38th minute. A Cornhusker striker was shoved from behind while attempting a header in the KU box, which quickly drew a whistle from the official. Odermann was picked to take the PK try and converted, for her second score of the day.
The second half largely belonged to the Jayhawks, who outshot the Cornhuskers 8-1 in the final frame. But, with Nebraska content to stay conservative and put big numbers behind the ball, the Jayhawks were unable to find the back of the net. Near goals from the feet of freshman Parker Roberts and junior Tayler Estrada were turned into impressive saves by the NU keeper, Erika Johnson.
At fulltime, Kansas had outshot the home team by a tally of 13-7, with six shots for each team going on target. But it was the three first half goals that proved to be the difference as the Jayhawks were forced to settle for the 3-0 season-opening defeat.
Roberts and senior Liana Salazar led the squad with three shots a piece. Seven other Jayhawks got on the stat sheet with a shot a piece. Sophomore Maddie Dobyns started in goal for the third time in her young KU career and managed to collect three saves on the night.
The Jayhawks will continue their Big Ten-themed weekend when they travel north for a collision with Minnesota on Sunday, Aug. 23. The Jayhawks and Golden Gophers will kick off in Minneapolis at 2 p.m.
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