|Game 15: #11 Kansas at Texas
||7 p.m. (CT)
||Mike A. Myers Stadium (20,000)
||UT leads, 14-3-2
||Jayhawk Radio Network
Big 12 Conference
|Stats at a Glance
|Shot on Goal %
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Sitting atop the Big 12 table, the No. 11 Kansas Jayhawks will look to keep their unblemished conference record intact when they go up against the Texas Longhorns Friday night inside Mike A. Myers Stadium. The Jayhawks, who will try for the program’s first victory in Austin, will meet the Longhorns for a 7 p.m. kickoff to be televised on the Longhorn Network.
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, which checked in at No. 11 in the latest NSCAA coaches’ poll, began its year with a perfect 8-0 start and is currently riding a five-match winning streak which followed its lone loss of the season to Marquette on Sept. 19. The Jayhawks lead the Big 12 in several categories including goals scored, goals allowed and shutouts.
Junior Liana Salazar leads the squad with her nine goals. The mark leads the Big 12, as do her 21 points. Three other Jayhawks have tallied three or more goals. The Jayhawk offense has netted 30 goals and, since suffering its lone shutout of 2014 against Marquette, has scored 11 goals in its last five matches. KU is averaging just over five shots on goal per game but is managing to get 40 percent of those to the back of the net. Kansas attacks through several players, as 11 different Jayhawks have notched at least one goal this year and 13 different players have managed to tally five or more shots on the year.
The KU defense has been one of the best in the nation this season, allowing just seven goals and limiting its opponents to less than 11 shots per match. Senior goalkeeper Kaitlyn Stroud has posted a 0.46 goals against average in 13 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 Longhorns
Texas went unbeaten through its first six matches this season but has three wins in its last seven outings. Two of the Longhorns’ losses in that span came to No. 1-ranked UCLA as well as No. 17-ranked West Virginia. UT’s best win thus far came two weeks ago when it downed then-No. 6 Texas Tech in Austin to open Big 12 play.
Texas has scored 21 goals this year which includes 17 goals that came within its first six games. The Longhorns are notching over 16 shots per game and putting over 44 percent of those on frame. Freshman Olivia Brook leads the squad with six goals this year while sophomore Jasmine Hart is tops on the team five six assists.
The UT defense has allowed 11 opponent goals in 2014, and has posted shutouts in three of its last four outings. Texas opponents have posted over 12 shots per match, including over five shots on goal per game. Junior goalkeeper Abby Smith as played each minute of the season between the posts for the Longhorns, amassing 61 saves, stopping over 84 percent of the shots put on goal and tallying six shutouts. Smith’s 0.81 goals-against average is sixth in the Big 12.
Angela Kelly is in her third season as the head coach at UT. The Longhorns are 27-20-6 during her tenure. Prior to her hiring, Kelly spent 12 years as head coach of the Tennessee Lady Vols, building the team into a national contender. In Knoxville, Kelly led the Lady Vols to a 160-84-20 (.644) mark in 12 years. Tennessee reached nine NCAA Tournaments, making five Sweet 16 appearances under Kelly with her squads going 10-8-2 in the NCAA Tournament.
Starting Big 12 Play with a Bang
Only once before in program history has Kansas begun its conference season with three wins in its first three Big 12 games prior to last weekend. With the Jayhawks’ defeats of Baylor, TCU and OSU to open league play, the squad joined the 2001 team to be victorious in its first three games of the conference season. That 2001 squad topped Oklahoma in Lawrence before dispatching of Oklahoma State and Iowa State on the road, eventually finishing with a Big 12 record of 7-3-0 and finishing fourth in the conference standings. The Jayhawks’ unblemished start this year already tops KU’s conference win total from last season and ties the 2011 and 2012 teams, which each won three league contests.
This year’s Kansas squad is bearing a striking resemblance to another notable KU team, perhaps the most successful in the program’s history. The 2004 Jayhawks won a program record 18 games and claimed the school’s first and only Big 12 regular season title. That team is one which several of the Kansas squads that have followed it have tried to replicate but this year’s team is doing the best job.
A quick comparison of both teams’ stat sheets at the same point in their respective seasons show some remarkable similarities. Each team featured a potent offense scoring around two goals per match and featured a star goal scorer. Future All-American Caroline Smith led the team with 11 goals in 2004 while Liana Salazar has already put in nine goals this year. While the offenses for each squad were good, the two teams’ defenses were even better. The 2004 Jayhawks allowed a mere five goals through 14 games with the 2014 squad conceding just seven goals. Both figures led the conference at that point in the year. Both the 2004 and 2014 Jayhawks also touted an identical overall goal differential of +23 following its first 14 outings.
Each team also had 11 different goal scorers at the 14-match mark, hadn’t allowed more than one goal in a match and tallied two opponent scoreless streaks of 290 minutes of longer. The squads had a gritty and aggressive make-up, with both teams committing around 11 fouls per game and already having earned 10 or more yellow cards.
Both groups also were able to string a good number of wins together in the first halves of their seasons. The 2004 squad began its season with six-straight wins. The feat has only been topped one other time in school history, when the 2014 Jayhawks rattled off eight-in-a-row to begin this year.
Save It, Stroud!
Kansas’ senior goalkeeper, Kaitlyn Stroud, is quickly putting together one of the greatest seasons a Jayhawk keeper has ever seen. The Fayetteville, Georgia native is boasting a career-low goals against average of 0.46, which leads the Big 12 and is only topped by seven other keepers in the NCAA who have logged more than 1,000 minutes. She has saved 90 percent of the shots KU opponents have put on frame, which is also the best in the conference and ranks eighth in the nation.
Stroud is on pace to set all sorts of school records. If her stellar defense continues at this pace, she’ll set new single-season bests in goals-against average, save percentage and shutouts. Megan Miller (2001-04) currently holds the record in each of those categories with a GAA of 0.57, a save percentage of .881 and 11 shutouts, all of which came in 2004.
On the career goalkeeping charts, Stroud has continued to move up this year. She currently sits third on the all-time saves chart with 258 stops. Her 1.20 career goals-against average is the second-lowest by a Jayhawk and her .794 save percentage is No. 3 on the KU charts. Stroud’s 12 career shutouts rank third all-time and are just four shy of tying Julie Hanley for second on the all-time shutouts list.
First to Score, Wins Galore
Over its past 54 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 54-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 30-1-2 in those games, which includes a 13-0-0 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 54-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 an 0-1-0 mark this year.
Turning Things Around
Still with five games to play this regular season, the 2014 Jayhawks have already achieved one of the best turnarounds in program history. Last season, Kansas won seven games and tied twice, while this year’s team has already picked up six more victories and still has a handful regular-season games to go. The program’s best turnaround belongs to the 2003 squad, which won seven more games than the year prior.
Head coach Mark Francis is no stranger to monumental turnarounds. After a 2-17 season during first season at South Alabama, Francis led the Jaguars to an 18-3-1 mark during the 1997 season. The 16-win turnaround is still the biggest in NCAA Division I soccer history.
With the release of the the latest Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) report by the NCAA this week, several good signs stick out for the Jayhawks. Kansas checked in at No. 16 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 marked the second-straight week the Jayhawks sat inside the top-20.
This week’s report shows that the Big 12 is among the nation’s toughest conferences after the first two weeks of league play. The conference tallied the second-highest ranking in the week’s RPI and boasts five of its nine teams inside the top-25. The Big 12’s high ranking also means the Jayhawks will get plenty of chances to up their national standing as four of their final five contests will be against teams currently ranked inside the top-25 of the RPI.
Kansas’ debut among the top-30 of the first RPI two weeks ago 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.
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. With seven shutouts this season, Kansas is currently boasting a goals-against average of 0.50, the lowest in the Big 12 and the 13th-best mark in the nation. The Jayhawks have allowed just seven goals on the year and no more than one in a game. KU went 298 minutes without conceding a goal from Sept. 5-19, the 11th-longest streak in school history, and recently wrapped up of a 360-minute long streak, which ranks fifth 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 148 shots KU has allowed this season, opponents are putting just over 42 percent of those on target and only getting 11 percent of those shots on frame past goalkeeper, Kaitlyn Stroud, and into the back of the net.
Through its first 14 games this season, Kansas has proven itself to be an aggressive squad in terms of fouls and cautions. The Jayhawks have been whistled for 153 fouls in 2014, which equates to almost 11 fouls per match. That mark is the second-most 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 12 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.
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. Fourteen different Jayhawks have had their hand in at least one of the Jayhawks’ 30 goals thus far in 2014, either scoring or assisting. Five additional players have managed to tally at least one shot. While Liana Salazar has notched almost a quarter of the team’s total shots (41), no other Jayhawk has taken more than 13 percent of the team’s total shots (176) thus far. Eighteen players have combined for the remaining 135 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 first 14 matches.
Williams Dubbed Big 12 Player of the Week
For the second-straight week, the Kansas soccer team saw one of its members touted as the Big 12’s Offensive Player of the Week after junior Ashley Williams was recognized by the league office Tuesday morning. The honor marked the fourth time in Williams’ career that she was given a weekly award and also saw a Jayhawk claim a conference weekly honor for the fourth time this season.
Williams was a key instrument in helping the Kansas Jayhawks pick up wins No. 12 and 13 over the weekend, netting game winners in KU’s defeats of Oklahoma State and Missouri State. On Friday night, Williams blasted home her fifth of the year from 10 yards out in the 18th minute, tallying the Jayhawks’ second goal against the Cowgirls which eventually earned her team its third Big 12 victory. Two days later Williams flicked in her sixth of the year, a corner kick set piece in the 66th minute against Missouri State, which eventually counted as her third game-winner of the season. Williams has now posted a goal or an assist in six of her last eight outings and has brought her career goal total to 16, which ranks ninth in school history.
This Day in Kansas Soccer History
OCTOBER 10, 2003 – First-year head coach Mark Francis helped Kansas pick up its then-program record eighth victory with a 2-1 win over the Oklahoma Sooners in Lawrence. Kansas’ Katie Lents chipped in her third goal of the year in the 17th minute before Natalie Hoogveld gave KU its second goal of the day in the 67th minute. Hilla Rantala assisted on both the Jayhawk goals. The win was Kansas’ third-straight win as well as its third conference win of the season.
Kansas will return to the friendly confines of Rock Chalk Park when it welcomes in perennial conference powers Texas Tech and West Virginia next weekend. The Jayhawks and Red Raiders will kickoff on Friday, Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. Two days later, the Mountaineers will journey to Lawrence for a 1 p.m. start to be televised on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel and ESPN3.
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