|Stats at a Glance
|Shot on Goal %
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Coming off its first defeat of the season, the Kansas Jayhawk soccer team will try to get back into the wins column when it welcomes the St. Mary’s Gaels to Lawrence on Sunday, Sept. 21. Kansas will kick off against the Gaels inside the Jayhawks Soccer Complex at 1 p.m.
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 and Nick Dodson’s call, fans can visit the free online player located at KUAthletics.com/Radio.
About the Jayhawks
The Jayhawks are coming off their first loss of the year, a 1-0 shutout at the hands of Marquette on Friday night. KU was out to their best start in program history with an 8-0 record prior to the loss. The team has amassed a goal differential of +14 through nine games this season and has allowed just one goal in its last four outings.
Junior Liana Salazar leads the squad with her six goals. The mark is second in the Big 12, as are her 13 points. Three other Jayhawks have tallied three or more goals. The Jayhawk offense has netting 19 goals and is tallying almost 14 shots per game. Kansas’ 19 goals are the most to start a season in school history. KU is averaging just under six shots on goal per game and is managing to get almost 40 percent of those to the back of the net. Kansas attacks through several players, as seven different Jayhawks have notched at least one goal this year and 15 different players have managed to tally two or more shots on the year.
The KU defense has been stout in its first nine outings, allowing just four goals and limiting its opponents to just over 10 shots per match. Senior goalkeeper Kaitlyn Stroud has posted a 0.49 goals against average in eight games between the posts with the help of a league-leading .875 save percentage. Kansas has yet to allow more than one goal in a game this season.
About the Gaels
After beginning the season with wins in three of its first four matches, St. Mary’s has been victorious in two of its last five outings, including a 2-1 win over South Dakota State on Friday evening. SMC has been shutout in three matches this season but has scored two or more goals in five games.
SMC is averaging 1.78 goals per game but has scored eight goals in its last five outings. The Gaels are notching over 13 shots per game and putting over 44 percent of those on frame. Sophomore midfielder Samantha Dion leads the squad with five goals on the year however she is one of seven Gaels who have tallied at least one goal this season.
The St. Mary’s defense has allowed 13 opponent goals in 2014, and has held three of its nine opponents scoreless. SMC opponents have posted 12 shots per match, including six shots on goal per game. Sophomore goalkeeper Julia McDonald, who has played all of her team’s minutes in goal this year, has made 31 saves and notched three shutouts. McDonald has stopped over 70 percent of the shots put on frame thus far in 2014 and is allowing 1.44 goals per 90 minutes.
Kai Edwards is in his seventh season as the head coach at St. Mary’s. The Gaels are 45-64-8 during his tenure. Edwards is the fifth coach in the 31 years of the St. Mary’s women’s soccer program and has since become the winningest coach in school history.
Kansas’ Historic Start
The 2014 Jayhawks got out to the program’s best start with a 8-0-0 record. The 2004 KU team held the previous program best when it began its year 6-0. The Jayhawks’ strong start can be attributed to impressive showings on both the offensive and defensive ends of the field. The Jayhawks have already amassed a goal differential of +14, the squad’s highest after nine games ever. KU’s 19 goals are also the most after nine games in the program’s history.
On defense, Kansas has conceded just five goals, and have shutout three of its last four opponents. KU’s 0.56 goals against average is the program’s second-lowest after nine games ever and ranks 26th in the NCAA. The Jayhawks have allowed only one opponent goal in the first half of play.
An NCAA Tourney This Way Come?
Not only did the Jayhawks’ perfect start shoot them up the conference and national rankings, but it also greatly increased their chances of earning a spot in their first NCAA tournament since 2011. Since the 2008 season, 21 NCAA teams have begun their seasons with a perfect 8-0-0 record in their first eight games. Of those 21 teams, 18 went on to earn bids into the NCAA tournament. Of those 18 squads that earned NCAA tourney spots, half of them managed to advance all the way to the Sweet 16.
Past Kansas teams who have had similar strong starts have also trended toward postseason play. KU’s first NCAA squad, the 2001 team, won seven of its first nine matches and eventually won a then-program best 13 games. Both the 2003 and 2004 teams were victorious in eight of their first nine games and, not only made it to the postseason tournament, but advanced to the Sweet 16 and second round, respectively.
Let’s Get Defensive
While the Jayhawk offense has been as potent as the program has seen in some time, the defense has been just as impressive. Coming off three-shutouts in its last four outings, Kansas is currently boasting a goals-against average of 0.56, the second lowest in the Big 12 and the 26th best mark in the nation. The Jayhawks have allowed just five goals on the year and no more than one in a game. KU went 299 minutes without conceding a goal from Sept. 5-Sept. 19, the 10th-longest streak in school history.
Kansas opponents’ lack of goal scoring may be attributed to the Jayhawks ability to keep the opposing team’s shot percentage low. Of the 81 shots KU has allowed this season, opponents are putting just 38 percent of those on target and only getting 13 percent of those shots on frame to the back of the net.
KU has seen numerous instances of late-game heroics already this year. Of the 19 goals Kansas has scored this year, eight of them have come within the final 20 minutes of play. Four Jayhawks game-winning goals have also come within the final 20 minutes of action, including Liana Salazar’s golden goal in the 102 minute versus Colorado (9/5).
Speaking of game-winners, a total of six different Jayhawks have already posted at least one game-winning goal this season. Only twice over the last eight seasons has a KU squad seen more than five players net a game-winner in a year.
Through its first nine games this season, Kansas has proven itself to be an aggressive squad in terms of fouls and cautions. The Jayhawks have been whistled for 101 fouls in 2014, which equates to over 11 fouls per match. That mark is the highest among Big 12 teams this year and is the highest average by a Kansas team in four seasons.
KU has also become quite familiar with the referee’s yellow card this season as the Jayhawks have been already been cautioned on 10 different occasions. This total is a stark contrast from recent Kansas squads. During the 2012 and 2013 seasons, Kansas was shown yellow just sixteen times, which included KU earning only one yellow throughout the entire 2012 campaign.
While this aggressive style of play may worry some, it has boded well for past Kansas squads. Four of the five Kansas teams that have advanced to the NCAA tournament averaged 10.5 or more fouls per match and were each carded at least 12 times during their seasons.
Playing with the Lead
In Friday’s loss to Marquette, the Jayhawks found themselves trailing in a match for the first time this season. Prior to Marquette’s go-ahead goal, KU amassed 739-straight minutes of “trail-less” play, which marked the longest streak of its kind in program history. The Jayhawks topped the 2004 team’s previous record by one minute.
The previous streak belonged to the 2004 squad that went nearly a month without trailing, racking up 738-consecutive minutes of trail-less play. That 2004 team also had a streak of 566 minutes to start that season.
Rolling Up the Ranks
After entering the top-25 of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Coaches’ poll for the first time in nearly five years last week, the Jayhawks, moved up the poll after its two shutout wins last weekend. The Jayhawks checked in at No. 16 in the national rankings, its highest spot in the Coaches’ poll since Nov. 9, 2004.
Kansas has reached as high as sixth in the NSCAA poll, which it achieved on Oct. 19 during the 2004 season. The Jayhawks’ longest stay among the top-25 of the coaches’ poll was 12-straight weeks from Sept. 7, 2004 to Aug. 16, 2005.
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. Nine different Jayhawks have had their hand in at least one of the Jayhawks’ 19 goals thus far in 2014, either scoring or assisting. Eight additional players have managed to tally at least one shot. While Salazar has notched nearly a quarter of the team’s total shots (27), no other Jayhawk has taken more than 12 percent of the team’s total shots (112) thus far. Sixteen players have combined for the remaining 85 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 eight matches.
Let’s Talk Winning Streaks
The Jayhawks just concluded the longest unbeaten streak in program history. The team’s eight-straight victories marked the first time a KU squad has won eight games in a row. The win over CSUN on Friday, Sept. 12 tied the 2004 team, who dished out seven-straight wins in the middle of their season en route to the Big 12 regular-season championship. KU’s win over UMKC on Sunday, Sept. 14 marked the longest streak any Jayhawk team has gone without drawing or losing a match.
Included in their hot start, several Jayhawks have already leaped to the top of the conference in several statistical. Junior Liana Salazar is in second in the Big 12 with her 13 points and six goals, while her 27 shots rank second in the league. Jayhawk goalkeeper Kaitlyn Stroud is tops in the league with her .893 save percentage and holds the Big 12’s second-best goals against average at 0.42.
As a team the Jayhawks lead the conference with their 19 goals and their 2.4 goals per game average. KU has tallied the most fouls among Big 12 squads at 85 or 10.6 per match. Kansas’ four shutouts is also tied for the most among Big 12 teams.
Kansas to Return to Rock Chalk Park on Oct. 3
After evaluating field conditions, Kansas officials announced Aug. 26 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 kick off Big 12 play on Friday, Sept. 26 when they journey to Waco, Texas to take on the Baylor Bears. BU will look to avenge a 2-0 Kansas victory in last year’s meeting in the match is set to begin at 7 p.m. Two days later the Jayhawks will remain in the Lone Star state to go up against the TCU Horned Frogs in Fort Worth, Texas.
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