Kansas Looks to Remain Unbeaten Sunday Versus Denver
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas soccer will attempt to move to 6-0 for the second time in program history as the Jayhawks Denver on Sunday, Sept. 7 at CIBER Field in Denver, Colorado. The match, set for 1 p.m. (CT), will be the fourth meeting between the two squads, all of which have been decided by one goal.
Over the Airwaves
Fans will be able to follow the Jayhawks in every match this year by listening to the free, live radio broadcast via leanStream on KUAthletics.com. To listen to Derek Johnson’s call, fans can go to visit the free online player located at KUAthletics.com/Radio.
About the Jayhawks
The Jayhawks are out to their best start in five years with a 5-0 record after a double-overtime victory over Colorado Friday night in Boulder. The team’s +10 goal differential after the first five matches is the program’s best ever to start a season.
Junior Liana Salazar leads the squad with her six goals. The mark leads the Big 12, as do her 13 points. Freshman Lois Heuchan has tallied three goals through her first five collegiate games, including a goal against Colorado Friday. Kansas’ 14 goals are the most to start a season since 2001. The Jayhawks averaged 12.6 shots over their first five games and managed to put over 41 percent of those shots on frame. Kansas attacks through several players, as nine Jayhawks have already managed to tally two or more shots on the year.
The KU defense has been solid in its first five outings, allowing just four goals and limiting its opponents to 11 shots per match. Senior goalkeeper Kaitlyn Stroud posted a 0.73 goals against average in four games between the posts with the help of 15 saves and a .833 save percentage, while freshman Maddie Dobyns picked up her first victory in 90 minutes for the Jayhawks against UTSA on Aug. 29.
About the Pioneers
Denver kicked off its season with four-straight road games, going to 1-2-1 before returning home to defeat Detroit, 1-0, Friday night. The Pioneers have scored in each of their first five matches and have shutout one opponent.
Denver has scored seven times this year but has also conceded seven goals. The Pioneers are tallying 7.6 shots per game and managing to get 50 percent of those on frame. Freshman midfielder Jocelyn Loomis leads the squad with three goals and six points this season, and is also tops on the team in shots, sending in nine already this year.
The Pioneer defense has allowed seven opponent goals and 12.6 shots over its first four games. They start sophomore goalkeeper Cassidy Rey, who has played each of the team’s minutes in goal this year, making 18 saves and notching a shutout in her most recent outing. Rey has stopped 72 percent of the shots put on frame thus far in 2014 and is allowing 1.29 goals per 90 minutes.
Jeff Hooker is in his 23rd season as the head coach at Denver. The Pioneers have achieved greatness under Hooker’s watch with at least eight wins in all of his 22 seasons, including 13 or more wins in each of the last seven seasons. Since 2006, the Pioneers have gone 138-29-14 (.788) overall and 71-7-5 (.876) in the conference play, while becoming the first team in history to win four-straight SBC Tournament titles and berths in the NCAA Tournament. Hooker’s teams compiled a school-record 19 wins in 2006, 2008 and 2010.
The 2014 Jayhawks have gotten out to the program’s best start in five years with a 5-0-0 record. Kansas has begun the year with a 5-0 record or better only three other times in program history, two by eventual NCAA Tournament teams (2004 and 2008). The Jayhawks’ strong start can be attributed to strong showings on both the offensive and defensive ends of the field. The Jayhawks have already amassed a goal differential of +10, the squad’s highest after five games ever. KU’s 14 goals also ties for the most after five games in the program’s history.
On defense, Kansas has conceded just four goals, which has been a common trend in recent seasons since the Jayhawk defense has allowed four or fewer goals over its opening five matches in each of the last three seasons. In that same span, Kansas has kept its opponents’ shot percentage below nine percent and shot on goal percentage below 38 percent.
Playing with the Lead
The 2014 Jayhawks have yet to trail in a game this season. In fact, KU’s 462 minutes of “trailess” play is already among the program’s longest streaks. KU’s five matches without trailing is the seventh-longest streak in program history and the longest since the 2009 squad went 534-straight minutes without finding themselves behind in a game.
The longest streak in program history belongs to the 2004 squad that went nearly a month without trailing, racking up 738-consecutive minutes of trailess play. The 2004 team also had a streak of 566 minutes to start that season.
Francis Picks up Win No. 200
Head coach Mark Francis earned the 200th win of his collegiate coaching career after his team defeated Wake Forest on Aug. 31. He has amassed a record of 201-152-23 over his 18-year coaching career (three seasons at Southern Alabama, 15+ seasons at Kansas). The veteran coach has averaged just under 11 wins per season during that span. He is currently second among the active Big 12 coaches in career victories behind West Virginia’s Nikki Izzo-Brown.
Revisiting the Win over Wake
The Jayhawks’ win over No. 24 Wake Forest on Aug. 31 was special for numerous reasons. Here are just a few:
- The win marked the third-straight season Kansas knocked off a ranked opponent at home.
- Ali Kimura and Liana Salazar’s two-goal performances were the first time two Jayhawks netted a pair of goals in the same game since Kortney Clifton and Emily Cressy did so in a 5-2 win over UAB on Sept. 5, 2008.
- Liana Salazar’s goals made it four-straight matches in which she has made it into the scoring column, the second-longest scoring streak ever by a Jayhawk.
- Kansas scored four goals, its most this year and the most conceded by the Demon Deacons in over two seasons.
- The win gave the Jayhawks a 4-0 record for the first time since 2009.
Included in their hot start, several Jayhawks have already leaped to the top of the conference lead in several statistical categories. Junior Liana Salazar leads all Big 12 players with her 13 points and six goals, while her 17 shots rank third in the league. Ali Kimura isn’t far behind in the overall points race, ranking second behind her teammate with nine thus far in 2014. Freshman Lois Heuchan is also tops in the conference with her two game-winning goals.
Despite missing a match, senior Kaitlyn Stroud is at the top of several of the league’s goalkeeping categories. Stroud sports the second-best goals-against average in the Big 12 at 0.73 and her .833 save percentage is the best among the league’s keepers. She has also tallied nearly four saves per match, which ranks third.
Salazar Named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week
Kansas junior midfielder Liana Salazar has been honored by the Big 12 Conference after she was named the Offensive Player of the Week the league office announced Sept 2. It was the first Big 12 weekly honor earned by a Jayhawk this season and the first of Salazar’s career.
The Bogotá, Colombia native helped the Jayhawks improve to 4-0 this season after KU recorded wins over UTSA and No. 24 Wake Forest. The junior midfielder finished the weekend with three goals and one assist in the two matches. Her top performance came against the Demon Deacons, after she tallied the eventual game-winner on a penalty kick in the 48th minute before adding her fifth score of the year in the 90th minute. Salazar leads the Big 12 in points (11) and goals (5) this season.
Spreading the Wealth
The Kansas offense has shown that it could be a tough assignment for opposing defenses this year after a host of Jayhawks have made their presence known on the stat sheet. Seven different Jayhawks have had their hand in at least one of the Jayhawks’ 14 goals thus far in 2014, either scoring or assisting. Seven additional players have managed to tally at least one shot. The shots takers have been so diverse that only Salazar (17 shots) has taken more than 15 percent of the team’s total shots (63) thus far. Twelve players have combined for the remaining 46 shots.
A year ago, the KU offense was slightly more one sided as only three different players had combined for more than half of the team’s shots after the opening four matches.
Kansas to Return to Rock Chalk Park on Oct. 3
After evaluating field conditions over last week, Kansas officials announced that the soccer team will look to resume playing games at Rock Chalk Park no later than the Jayhawks’ Big 12 opener versus Oklahoma State on Oct. 3.
After playing on the new surface on Aug. 22 against Wyoming, Kansas coaches and administrators deemed the field to be unsafe for play due to the uneven surface and several areas with little or no turf growth. The subsequent game on Aug. 24 against SMU was then moved to KU’s former game field, the Jayhawk Soccer Complex, which is where the team will remain for the rest of its home non-conference schedule.
The poor field conditions at Rock Chalk Park were attributed to an absence of weather conditions that facilitate the best environment for Bermuda turf growth. When weighing the field installation options over a year ago with turf experts, it was determined the best option for the long-term wellness of the field would be to sprig, or plant, the Bermuda grass seedlings instead of sodding the field. This decision was made with the knowledge that young Bermuda grass would thrive during a normally hot Kansas summer.
However, the average high temperature in July and August this year was just over 87 degrees prior to last week, much cooler than the 91-degree average high for this area during those months. Despite numerous efforts to facilitate faster growth, the unusual weather patterns left the surface behind schedule and unfit for play at the start of the season.
Following an inspection of the field on Aug. 26 with turf experts, officials believe that the early-October target date is the best option to expect to have the surface game-ready.
KU officials reiterated that if the playing surface at Rock Chalk Park is deemed ready for play in the weeks prior to the Oct. 3 match, the team could play matches there.
The Jayhawks will return to Lawrence to host a pair of matches next weekend. Kansas will take on Cal State Northridge on Friday, Sept. 12 in a 5 p.m. game at the Jayhawk Soccer Complex. KU will then welcome in UMKC two days later for a 1 p.m. kickoff that will be televised on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel.
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