Jayhawks Hook Longhorns, Remain Perfect in Big 12
AUSTIN, Texas – Junior Ashley Williams was the hero for the third-straight match after netting the eventual game-winner in the 63rd minute to help the Kansas Jayhawks top the Texas Longhorns, 1-0, inside Mike A. Myers Stadium Friday night. The Jayhawks’ win was the program’s first in Austin and gave KU its 14th win of the year, the second most in a season in school history.
Kansas moved to 14-1-0 on the year and remained perfect through the first half of the conference season with a 4-0-0 record. Texas dropped to 7-5-2 in 2014 and is now 2-2-0 in league play.
“Collectively the kids showed a lot of character tonight,” said head coach Mark Francis. “Ashley scored an unbelievable goal. It was probably one of the best goals this year. (Kaitlyn) Stroud was also brilliant. She did a great job coming out and punching a lot of balls she had to deal with and that was key because Texas is so good on set pieces. This is the first time we’ve ever won at Texas so these players have done something that no other Kansas team has been able to do and hopefully we can keep that going.”
In what has become somewhat of a routine for Williams, the Albuquerque, New Mexico native came through in the clutch once again, for the fourth time this year to be exact. Almost three minutes past the hour mark in a match that neither team could shake away from one another, Williams gave her team the edge it needed with a goal in her third-straight outing.
In the 63rd minute, with KU on a counter attack, junior Liana Salazar played a ball to an open Williams who had taken up position several yards outside the top-right corner of the UT penalty box. She only needed one touch before she blasted home a right-footed shot that sailed into the upper 90 to give KU a 1-0 lead.
Williams’ goal was the seventh of the season and fourth in her last six games. It was also the 17th of her KU career, which pulled her into a tie with her assisting teammate on the goal, Salazar, for eighth on the Jayhawks’ all-time goal scoring charts.
Prior to the go-ahead goal Williams may have thought she had already missed her past chance at goal No. 7 just minutes prior. In the 59th minute, the Jayhawks found themselves with a great build-up inside the UT box which ended with sophomore Morgan Williams playing a low cross toward the far post the Ashley Williams was in prime position to knock in. The ball skipped just out of the her reach and went wide left of the post and put an end to KU’s best scoring chance up to that point in the match.
Williams redeemed herself less than four minutes later and sent the Longhorns scrambling for the equalizer. The Jayhawks were forced to defend a hefty number of Texas corner kicks and set pieces in the remaining minutes of the game, which called into action the Big 12’s leading goalkeeper in save percentage and goals-against average, senior Kaitlyn Stroud.
Stroud made three key saves in the final frame and tallied a handful of punches and grabs to thwart a number of dangerous Longhorn set pieces. UT amassed five corners in the second half but were unable to do anything with them.
With just seconds remaining, UT saw an opening for one last shot at the Jayhawk goal after the Longhorns were awarded a free kick from less than 25 yards out. UT senior Sharis Lachappelle sent in a curling ball that was easily corralled by Stroud for her seventh and final save of the evening.
The final whistle sounded 30 seconds later to signal Kansas’ 14th win of the year as well as its sixth straight. The Jayhawks’ 14 victories are its most in a season since 2004.
The Jayhawks and Longhorns combined to tally 32 shots in the match with UT taking a slight edge at 17-15. Senior Jamie Fletcher led the squad with five shots on the night, however eight different Jayhawks managed to put in at least one shot.
Stroud and the Jayhawk defense earned their eighth shutout of the season, a number with leads the Big 12.
The Jayhawks 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 kick off 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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