Pair of Freshmen Lift Jayhawks Over SMU, 2-1
DALLAS – Freshmen Grace Hagan and Parker Roberts each shot in the first goals of their collegiate careers and helped the Jayhawks to their first victory of the season as Kansas outlasted the SMU Mustangs Friday evening at Westcott Field.
Kansas moved to 1-1-1 on the year and picked up their fourth-straight win inside the state of Texas, while SMU dropped to 0-2-1 to start their 2015 season.
“I didn’t think we played great today to be honest,” said head coach Mark Francis. “I felt like we were pretty lethargic in the first half. We didn’t look like we were in gear, we were slow, we didn’t move off the ball very well. But the second half was better. I challenged them at halftime and we came out with more energy. We scored a great goal on stuff we’ve been working on, which was really satisfying for the kids. I’m pleased with the result and I think for the kids it was important, confidence-wise, to get the win today.”
After going more than 200 minutes without a goal to start their 2015 campaign, the Jayhawks wasted little time to get the ball into the back of the net Friday night. With the match level at 0-0, Roberts sent in a low, strong pass across the face of SMU’s goal, headed for the feet of senior Ashley Williams. Williams bluffed a touch and let the ball roll to a wide open Hagan, who shot in the first goal of her young KU career and give her team its first lead of the year, 1-0, less than 12 minutes into the match.
The Jayhawks firmly held the lead for the remainder of the opening frame, but the 95-degree temperatures made it difficult to keep the pace of the match high in the waning five minutes of the half, resulting in few prime chances for either squad. Kansas ended the first half outshooting the home team 6-4.
The second half started well for the Mustangs, getting three looks at goal and sending in three shots all within the first 10 minutes of the half. Kansas gradually changed the momentum over the next 10 minutes, holding possession and creating a few scoring chances for itself.
In the 66th minute, Roberts came close to putting in the Jayhawks second goal after she found an opening along the end line but her shot came at a poor angle and was easily stopped by Mustang goalkeeper, Shannon Moroney. Unfortunately for SMU, the Mustangs lost track of KU’s freshman midfielder once again less than two minutes later, and this time, Roberts made them pay.
In the 68th minute, Williams gained possession near midfield and found herself with ample space to operate downfield. The senior forward spotted Roberts making a run into the SMU box and played a near perfect pass to her freshman teammate. The Leawood, Kansas product beat her defender, made one touch and sent in her first-career goal as a Jayhawk to put her team up 2-0 with just over 20 minutes to play. The match was anything but over, however, as some late fireworks made a KU victory anything but certain.
With SMU sending numbers forward in the final 10 minutes, the Kansas defense was forced to deflect attack after attack from the Mustangs, but it backfired in the 83rd minute when sophomore Kayla Morrison was called for a hand ball inside the SMU box, resulting in a Mustang penalty kick. SMU’s Vanessa Valadez converted on the penalty try and cut the KU lead in half, 2-1, still with more than six minutes to play.
With the pressure mounting, the Jayhawk defense held strong and thwarted several late Mustang attempts to put in the equalizer, but none more important than in the final seconds of the match.
Just 10 seconds remained when SMU was awarded a corner kick, which it turned into a prime scoring opportunity. The corner service found the foot of SMU’s Claire Oates, who was standing no more than six yards from the mouth of the Jayhawk goal. Oates tried to flick in quick goal toward the far post, however junior defender Morgan Williams was there to make the stop. The Carrollton, Texas native deflected the try away and the final buzzer sounded seconds later, signaling the Jayhawks’ first victory of the 2015 season.
A host of Jayhawks got into the offensive mix throughout the match, with nine players turning in at least one shot. KU ended the game with the edge in shots (13-11) and shots on goal (6-5).
Sophomore goalkeeper Maddie Dobyns picked up the win between the posts for the Jayhawks and helped the KU defense to another stellar outing. Dobyns collected four saves on the day on the Kansas backline has now allowed just one opponent goal in the last 252 minutes of play.
The Jayhawks will remain in the “MetroPlex” for game two of the weekend, but will trek north for a matchup with the Mean Green of North Texas in Denton. UNT, which is currently receiving votes in the NSCAA Coaches’ poll, will welcome in Kansas for the 1 p.m., bout on Sunday, Aug. 30 inside the Mean Green Soccer Complex.
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