No. 18 Jayhawks Ready to Open Big 12 Slate at Baylor
LAWRENCE, Kan. – After experiencing its most successful non-conference season in a decade, the Kansas soccer team now turns its attention to conference play for the Big 12 opener against the Baylor Bears on Sept. 26. The Jayhawks and Bears will kickoff at Betty Lou Mays Soccer Field at 7 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’s call, fans can visit the free online player located at KUAthletics.com/Radio.
About the Jayhawks
Kansas, who is ranked among the top-25 in the majority of the national collegiate polls, is coming of its most successful showing non-conference play since 2004, going 9-1-0 over its opening 10 matches of 2014. Kansas has amassed a goal differential of +18 so far this season and has allowed just one goal in its last 462 minutes of play.
Junior Liana Salazar leads the squad with her seven goals. The mark is second in the Big 12, as are her 15 points. Three other Jayhawks have tallied three or more goals. The Jayhawk offense has netted 23 goals and is tallying almost 14 shots per game. Kansas’ 23 goals are the most through the first 10 games of a season since 2008. 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 nine 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 10 outings, allowing just five goals and limiting its opponents to just under 11 shots per match. Senior goalkeeper Kaitlyn Stroud has posted a 0.44 goals against average in nine games between the posts with the help of a league-leading .900 save percentage. Kansas has yet to allow more than one goal in a game this season.
About the Bears
After beginning the season with wins in five of its first six matches, Baylor has been victorious in one of its last four outings. BU has played in three overtime matches already this season, including a 0-0 draw with Oral Roberts last Sunday. The Bears have tallied a Big 12-high six shutouts on the year and have yet to lose a match at home this season, having lost just twice on its home field since 2012.
Baylor has scored 21 goals this year however 10 of those came in a pair of 5-0 wins over Incarnate Ward and Northwestern State. The Bears are notching over 16 shots per game and putting over 53 percent of those on frame. Ashley York and Bri Camps lead the squad with four goals apiece, however they are two of six Bears who have tallied at least two goals this season.
The Baylor defense has allowed six opponent goals in 2014, and has held four of its last six opponents scoreless. BU opponents have posted only six shots per match, including under four shots on goal per game. Senior goalkeeper Michelle Kloss, who has played three-quarters of her team’s minutes in goal this year, has made 27 saves and notched three shutouts. Kloss has stopped over 81 percent of the shots put on frame thus far in 2014 and is allowing 0.74 goals per 90 minutes.
Marci Jobson is in her seventh season as the head coach at Baylor. The Bears are 74-38-21 during her tenure. In the last two seasons, Jobson guided her 2012 team to the program’s first Big 12 Championship title and deepest run in the NCAA Tournament with a Sweet 16 appearance, and pushed the 2013 squad to the program’s highest-ever ranking by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) at No. 9.
Starting Big 12 Play with a Bang
In the 15 years Mark Francis has coached at Kansas, the Jayhawks have seen some success in the opening weekends of conference play. Kansas has amassed a record of 8-4-1 (.607) in Big 12 home openers under Francis, an over 10 percent increase from its overall conference winning percentage of .486 since 1999. The Jayhawks hold a record of 3-9-3 (.300) in those Big 12 openers played on the road. Under Francis, Kansas is 5-8-2 in all Big 12 opening matches. Last season, Kansas opened its conference slate with a 0-0 draw at Iowa State.
First to Score, Wins Galore
Over its past 50 games, dating back to the beginning of the 2012 season, Kansas has developed an interesting trend when it comes to which team tallies the first goal of the match. During that 50-game span, the Jayhawks have been on the losing end only once in the games which they have put in the match’s first goal. Kansas has amassed a record of 26-1-2 in those games, which includes an 8-0-0 mark this year.
On the flip side, KU hasn’t been quite as fortunate when its opponents have gotten on the board first. Kansas has not won a game in that same 50-game span when finding itself trailing 1-0 at any point in a match. The Jayhawks are 0-19-1 in those games over the last two years, including a 0-1-0 mark this year.
With the release of the season’s first Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) report by the NCAA this week, several good signs stick out for the Jayhawks. Kansas checked in at No. 29 on the list that takes numerous factors into account including strength of schedule, record against top-50 teams and home versus road record. The ranking was Kansas’ highest to start the year since the weekly RPI report became public in 2011.
This week’s report shows that the Big 12 is among the nation’s toughest conferences after the conclusion of non-conference play. The league tallied the third-highest ranking in the week’s RPI and boasts five of its nine teams inside the top-50. The conference’s high ranking also means the Jayhawks will get plenty of chances to up their national standing as seven of their next eight contests will be against teams currently ranked inside the top-100 of the RPI.
Kansas’ debut among the top-30 of the first RPI also bodes well for the Jayhawks as 82 of the 90 teams that have been among the top-30 of the first RPI report over the last three seasons have gone on to advance to the NCAA Tournament.
Freshman Hannah Lukinac put in the first goal of her young KU career in the 44th minute against St. Mary’s on Sept. 21. The goal, which Lukinac scored after having logged just 35 minutes of playing time this season, made her the sixth-fastest Jayhawk to score the first of her collegiate career. Lukinac joined current teammate Jamie Fletcher on the prestigious list. Fletcher netted her first goal in a program record 13:18 into her playing career back in 2011.
Lukinac also joined rare company as she is just the seventh Jayhawk in program history to tally her first goal on her first career shot.
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. Kansas has already amassed a goal differential of +18, the squad’s highest after 10 games ever. KU’s 23 goals are also the most after 10 game since the 2008 squad netted 24 goals in its first 10 contests.
On defense, Kansas has conceded just five goals, and has shutout four of its last five opponents. KU’s 0.49 goals against average is the program’s second-lowest after 10 games ever and ranks 20th in the NCAA. The Jayhawks have allowed only one opponent goal in the first half of play this season.
Odds and Ends
- Two substitutes made some history over the weekend in the Jayhawks’ win over St. Mary’s Sunday. Junior Courtney Dickerson and freshman Hannah Lukinac came in off the bench and both scored goals in the first half. This marked just the second time in KU history that two Jayhawk substitutes netted goals in the opening 45 minutes. Rachel Gilfillan and Lacy Wolf also accomplished the feat against Texas Tech on Oct. 12, 2001.
- Road wins have been difficult for the Jayhawks to come by over the last two seasons, going 3-8-3 in 2012 and 2013, but Kansas has already turned that around this year by picking up back-to-back road wins three weeks ago over Colorado and Denver.
- Fifteen of the Jayhawks’ 23 goals have come in the second half or later this season and nine of those have come within the final 30 minutes of action. In 20 games last season, KU scored a total of 10 goals in the second half.
- Fouls have been a prominent feature in the recent Kansas-Baylor matchups. The Jayhawks and Bears have combined to average over 23 fouls in each of their last four matchups. Nine yellow cards have also been issued between the two squads in the last four meetings.
- First halves of not been very fun for Kansas opponents this year. The Jayhawks allowed just one goal within the first 45 minutes of action, and are holding teams to fewer than five shots in the opening frame.
- Ali Kimura has already tallied six assists this season, meaning she’s on schedule to dish more than 11 helpers in the regular season if she were to continue that pace. Only two other Jayhawks, Hilla Rantala (12 in 2001) and Whitney Berry (13 in 2011), have notched 11 or more assists in a season.
An NCAA Tourney This Way Comes?
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 four shutouts in its last five outings, Kansas is currently boasting a goals-against average of 0.49, the second lowest in the Big 12 and the 20th-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 109 shots KU has allowed this season, opponents are putting just 39 percent of those on target and only getting less than 12 percent of those shots on frame past goalkeeper Kaitlyn Stroud and into the back of the net.
KU has seen numerous instances of late-game heroics already this year. Of the 23 goals Kansas has scored this season, nine of them have come within the final 20 minutes of play. Four KU 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 seven different Jayhawks have already posted at least one game-winning goal this season. Only twice over the last nine seasons has a KU squad seen more than six players net at least one game-winner in a year.
Through its first 10 games this season, Kansas has proven itself to be an aggressive squad in terms of fouls and cautions. The Jayhawks have been whistled for 108 fouls in 2014, which equates to just under 10 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 16 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 last 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.
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. Twelve different Jayhawks have had their hand in at least one of the Jayhawks’ 23 goals thus far in 2014, either scoring or assisting. Seven additional players have managed to tally at least one shot. While Salazar has notched nearly a quarter of the team’s total shots (34), no other Jayhawk has taken more than 12 percent of the team’s total shots (139) thus far. Eighteen players have combined for the remaining 105 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 10 matches.
This Day in Kansas Soccer History
SEPTEMBER 26, 2003 – The Jayhawk soccer team picked up its first conference win of the year in a double-overtime thriller against the Baylor Bears in Lawrence. Senior Carmel Kaplinger shot in her first of the year with just over two minutes remaining in double overtime to give her team its sixth-straight victory and ninth win of the season. Junior goalkeeper Meghan Miller made four saves en route to her fifth shutout of the year. The Jayhawks outshot the Bears 27-9, including a 12-3 margin in the second half.
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.
Kansas will return to Lawrence to host its much-anticipated Big 12-home opener at Rock Chalk Park on Friday, Oct. 3. The Jayhawks will welcome the Oklahoma State Cowgirls to their new, state-of-the-art facility for a 7 p.m. kickoff. Two days later, Kansas will return to the pitch at Rock Chalk Park to take on their final non-conference opponent of the regular season, the Missouri State Bears. KU and MSU will kick off at 1 p.m. in the match to be televised on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel and ESPN3.
KUAthletics.com: The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.