|Stats at a Glance
|Shot on Goal %
LAWRENCE, Kan. – With their new ranking inside the nation’s top-10, the No. 9 Kansas Jayhawks will look to keep their unblemished conference record intact when they welcome in the No. 22 Texas Tech Red Raiders Friday night at Rock Chalk Park. The Jayhawks, who are currently riding a six-game winning streak as well as an 11-game home winning streak, will meet the Red Raiders for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
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
Kansas, which checked in at No. 9 in the latest NSCAA coaches’ poll, began its year with a perfect 8-0 start and is currently riding a six-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 is second in the Big 12 and her 22 points lead the league. Three other Jayhawks have tallied three or more goals. The Jayhawk offense has netted 31 goals and, since suffering its lone shutout of 2014 against Marquette, has scored 12 goals in its last six matches. KU is averaging just over five shots on goal per game but is managing to get almost 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 0.42 goals against average in 14 games between the posts with the help of a league-leading .910 save percentage. Kansas has yet to allow more than one goal in a game this season.
About the Red Raiders
Texas Tech, which is ranked No. 22 in the latest NSCAA rankings, began its year with nine-straight wins but has managed to pick up just one win in its last five outings since the hot start. Two losses and a tie came during that span were decided in overtime. Picked to finish second in the Preseason Big 12 Coaches’ Poll, TTU is 0-3-1 after the first half of league play.
Texas Tech has scored 26 goals this year which includes 23 goals that came in non-conference play. The Red Raiders are notching over 17 shots per game and putting over 39 percent of those on frame. Junior Janine Backie leads the squad and the Big 12 with 10 goals this year while junior Alli Murphy also leads the conference with her 10 assists.
The TTU defense has allowed 13 opponent goals in 2014, nine of which have come within its last five games. Texas Tech posted shutouts in four of its first seven outings. Red Raider opponents have posted almost 11 shots per match, including over four shots on goal per game. Sophomore goalkeeper Lauren Watson has played each minute of the season between the posts for TTU, amassing 45 saves, stopping over 77 percent of the shots put on goal and tallying five shutouts. Watson’s 0.87 goals-against average is sixth in the Big 12.
Tom Stone is in his eighth season as the head coach at TTU. The Red Raiders are 88-53-15 during his tenure. Stone has recently helped Texas Tech to back-to-back appearances in the NCAA second round and a school-record 18 victories in 2013. The Red Raiders have won 34 matches in the last two seasons, the most among Big 12 programs during that span.
No Place Like Home
The Jayhawks are currently riding their longest home-winning streak in school history with 11-straight wins in Lawrence dating back to last year. The streak began with a 2-0 win over Baylor on Oct. 20, 2013 and the Jayhawks have rattled off 10 victories in their successive home games.
Eight of those games were played at Kansas’ former home field, the Jayhawk Soccer Complex, while three have come at KU’s new facility, Rock Chalk Park. The Jayhawks’ 4-0 win over St. Mary’s on Sept. 21 gave KU its ninth-straight home win and downed the program’s previous record streak of eight games, which was amassed from Sept. 21, 2004 to Sept. 23, 2005.
Starting Big 12 Play with a Bang
Never before in program history has Kansas begun its conference season with for wins in its first four Big 12 games prior to last weekend. With the Jayhawks’ defeats of Baylor, TCU, OSU and Texas to open league play, the squad topped the 2001 team which was 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 15 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 +24 following their 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 or 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 0.42, which leads the Big 12 and is only topped by eight other keepers in the NCAA who have logged more than 1,000 minutes. She has saved 91 percent of the shots KU opponents have put on frame, which is also the best in the conference and ranks fourth 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 265 stops. Her 1.17 career goals-against average is the second-lowest by a Jayhawk and her .798 save percentage is No. 3 on the KU charts. Stroud’s 13 career shutouts rank third all-time and are just three shy of tying Julie Hanley for second on the all-time shutouts list.
First to Score, Wins Galore
Over its past 55 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 55-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 31-1-2 in those games, which includes a 14-0-0 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 55-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 four 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 seven more victories and still has a handful regular-season games to go. This mark ties program’s best turnaround which belongs to the 2003 squad that also 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 latest Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) report by the NCAA this week, several good signs stick out for the Jayhawks. Kansas checked in at No. 12 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 third-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 three weeks of league play. The conference tallied the second-highest ranking in the week’s RPI and boasts six of its nine teams inside the top-30. The Big 12’s high ranking also means the Jayhawks will get plenty of chances to up their national standing as three of their final four contests will be against teams currently ranked inside the top-30 of the RPI.
Kansas’ debut among the top-30 of the first RPI three 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 eight shutouts this season, Kansas is currently boasting a goals-against average of 0.46, the lowest in the Big 12 and the eighth-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 165 shots KU has allowed this season, opponents are putting just over 42 percent of those on target and only getting 10 percent of those shots on frame past goalkeeper, Kaitlyn Stroud, and into the back of the net.
Rolling up the Rankings
With the release of this week’s NSCAA Coaches’ national poll the Jayhawks checked in at No. 9. The ranking is Kansas highest since 2004 when KU topped out at No. 6. KU has now been ranked inside to top-25 of the national poll for six-straight weeks. Its longest stay in the Coaches’ Poll since KU was ranked for 12-straight weeks starting from Sept. 7, 2004 and ending on Sept. 5, 2005.
Through 15 games this season, Kansas has proven itself to be an aggressive squad in terms of fouls and cautions. The Jayhawks have been whistled for 159 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’ 31 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 (43), no other Jayhawk has taken more than 13 percent of the team’s total shots (191) thus far. Eighteen players have combined for the remaining 148 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 15 matches.
This Day in Kansas Soccer History
OCTOBER 17, 2008 – The Jayhawks tallied a win over their highest ranked opponent in program history when they downed No. 6 Texas A&M, 1-0, in Lawrence. Shannon McCabe shot in her third goal of the year in the 29th minute and the KU defense did the rest with a shutout of the potent Aggie offense. TAMU outshot Kansas 17-9 over the 90-minute span, including a 11-5 tally in the second half. The win was the Jayhawks’ ninth of the year and moved them to 3-3-1 in th Big 12 play.
Kansas will welcome the No. 16-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers in the highly-anticipated league matchup at Rock Chalk Park. WVU will journey to Lawrence on Sunday, Oct. 19 for a 1 p.m., start to be televised on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel and ESPN3.
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