Kansas Opens Season, Rock Chalk Park with 3-1 Win
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Junior Liana Salazar helped Kansas open the 2014 season and christen Rock Chalk Park in grand fashion with a bicycle kick goal less than 90 seconds into a 3-1 victory over Wyoming Friday night. Salazar, freshman Lois Heuchan and Ashley Williams all tallied scores in the win. The Jayhawks (1-0) nearly shutout the Cowgirls (0-1) before a late goal in the 87th minute by Wyoming’s Shelby Shorb.
“It was a great way to start the season, getting a win at our new facility,” said head coach Mark Francis following the match. “I think getting in behind them was one of the keys for us today. We really stretched them out defensively and that created problems for them so it was nice to see the girls execute. They exposed some things that we did wrong but all-in-all it was a great performance and the girls should be happy with how they played tonight.”
Playing under the lights at their state-of-the-art facility for the first time, the Jayhawks quickly made sure it would be a tall task for the visitors to spoil their opening night. KU put on the pressure early with Salazar slamming home her ninth-career goal off the crossbar in the second minute. The acrobatic score was made possible by a long cross into the box by sophomore Morgan Williams, which was then flicked on by freshman Eli Mayr. Salazar gave the ball one touch with her back to the goal and unwound for a bicycle kick that saw the ball deflect off the cross bar and in to give her team an early 1-0 lead.
KU continued its onslaught just over 16 minutes later when Williams found space up the right side of the attacking third. The Albuquerque, New Mexico native dribbled into the Cowgirl 18-yard box before sending a short, low cross across the face of goal. Heuchan was there to chip in the on-point pass and push her squad’s lead to 2-0.
The two sides played even for the rest of the opening period, however the Jayhawks were the more dominant side on paper, holding possession for nearly 70 percent of the first half.
Liana Salazar bends a ball around a
defender in Friday night’s season opener.Kansas began the second frame much like it did in the first, with an early goal that took any wind that may have been left in the Cowgirls’ sails. In the 50th minute, Williams gained possession and went on a 20-yard breakaway down the center of the field. Just before dribbling into the top of the Wyoming penalty box, she sent in a right-footed strike that leaped past the Wyoming keeper and just inside the left post. The goal, which was the 11th of Williams’ career, put KU up 3-0 with just over 40 minutes still to play.
The pace of play remained largely unchanged over the rest of the match. Wyoming saw several chances but only one was put on frame, which was stopped by the KU keeper, Kaitlyn Stroud, for one of her four saves on the night.
Wyoming spoiled Stroud’s shutout in the 87th minute with chip-in goal from the sophomore Shorb. KU held off a few frantic Cowgirl attempts in the waning seconds to earn the team’s fifth opening-day victory in the last seven years and the first at Rock Chalk Park.
Heuchan, Williams and Salazar each led the squad with two shots apiece. Wyoming outshot the Jayhawks 14-11, with an 8-6 advantage in the second half, but KU drew level with the visitors with four shots on frame. Stroud picked up her 19th-career win between the posts for the Jayhawks.
Kansas will return to the Rock Chalk Park pitch on Sunday, Aug. 24 for a date with the SMU Mustangs. The Mustangs, who suffered a 4-0 loss to Nebraska in Lincoln on Friday night, will take the field against the Jayhawks for a 1 p.m., kickoff. The match will be televised by Time Warner Cable Sports Channel and ESPN3.com.
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