Jayhawks Roll to Best Start in Program History, Shutout Matadors
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Senior Jamie Fletcher wasn’t about to just watch history roll by. The Kansas senior forward blasted a shot from the top of the box late in the second half, leading the Jayhawks to a program-record-setting, seventh-straight victory to open the 2014 season, a 2-0 shutout of Cal State Northridge at the Jayhawk Soccer Complex Friday night.
Kansas, now 7-0-0, also tied the program’s longest winning streak with the defeat of Matadors, who dropped to 2-3-1 in 2014.
“Today was a tough game and I knew we were going to get that from (CSUN) after watching them on video,” said head coach Mark Francis. “I was happy with the performance though. It was definitely a fight and I was glad we managed to pull it out in the end.”
It was the first goal in the first action of the season for Fletcher, who had to watch from the sidelines for all six previous wins due to a pair of injuries. A non-starter in Friday’s match up with the Matadors, Fletcher entered in the 20th minute and helped Kansas manage cold, blustery conditions.
Even with Fletcher’s noticeable presence the KU offense was unable to gather much momentum over the opening 45 minutes. Both teams combined for just six shots in the first period, only one of which was on goal.
The pace picked up in the second frame but neither the Jayhawks nor Matadors could get the ball into the back of the net. Less than five minutes into the half, CSUN’s Camille Watson struck a quick curling shot that was headed for a goal. KU’s senior keeper Kaitlyn Stroud was there though, making one of her three saves on the night – a diving, one-handed deflection that thwarted what would have put the Jayhawks in their first deficit of the season.
Kansas also saw their fair share of opportunities in the final 35 minutes of action, tallying four shots but none bigger than Fletcher’s strike in the 75th minute.
The Albuquerque, New Mexico native, who had played in 61-straight games for the Jayhawks before sitting the early portion of this season with injury, appeared as though she hadn’t missed a beat during her absence. At the 74:52 mark, midfielder Tayler Estrada found space down the right side and moved into the attacking end of the field. The sophomore played a pass to the feet of Fletcher who had taken up a post just outside the CSUN 18-yard box. With her back to the goal, Fletcher gathered the pass, turned and unwound for a left-footed shot that flew just below the cross bar and in to put the Jayhawks on top.
The goal was the 14th of Fletcher’s career and gave the Jayhawks a lead they would not relinquish.
The Matadors pressed hard over the remaining 15 minutes of action, however the Jayhawk defense was there on each opportunity to assure its third shutout of the season.
In the waning minutes the Jayhawks went on a counter attack as senior Ali Kimura led a breakaway down the right side of the field. Kimura served a ball that flew untouched across the face of goal to a wide open Ashley Williams at the far post. Williams knocked in her second of the year to seal her team’s seventh win with less than 90 seconds remaining.
The Jayhawks were held to a season-low nine shots on the night but were led by sophomore Jackie Georgoulis who tallied a pair. The Matadors became the third KU opponent to outshoot the Jayhawks this season with their ten shots, however they managed to put just three of those shots on frame.
Stroud tallied a shutout in the second-straight game in goal for the Jayhawks, which marked the eighth shutout of her career. The game also marked her 24th-career victory between the pipes, which puts her at third by herself in the KU goalkeepers’ all-time wins chart.
Kansas will be back in action on Sunday, Sept. 14 as they try to remain unbeaten against the UMKC Kangaroos. The Jayhawks will try to notch the program’s longest winning streak when they hit the pitch for the game slated to kickoff at 1 p.m. KU and UMKC, who will be meeting in regular-season play for the first time will be televised on Time Warner Cable Sports Channel and ESPN3.
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