Cowgirls Upend Jayhawks, 2-0
STILLWATER, Okla. – A pair of goals at both ends of the first half propelled the Oklahoma State Cowgirls past the Kansas Jayhawks, 2-0, Sunday afternoon inside the Cowgirl Soccer Complex. The match marked the third-straight shutout loss for the Jayhawks as they head into their final outing of the regular season later this week.
Kansas fell to 8-8-1 in its 2015 season and 3-4-0 in Big 12 play. Oklahoma State moved to 9-7-2 in its season and 2-3-2 in conference.
“I thought we played fairly well today, but when you start off behind the eight ball 90 seconds in, it makes it really tough on you,” said head coach Mark Francis. “I can’t fault the girls for the effort they gave today but we just weren’t tuned in for whatever reason during the first 10 minutes. We need to bounce back and beat TCU on Friday and go have a great week at the conference tournament. If we do that, we’ll keep playing.”
For the second time in three games, Kansas allowed an opponent goal within the opening three minutes of the match. The Cowgirls’ senior striker Madison Mercado managed to send in a shot less than 90 seconds after the opening whistle, after she was found unmarked at the top of the Kansas penalty area. The strike was Mercado’s fourth goal of the season and put the Jayhawks in an early 1-0 hole.
Kansas eventually gained its footing in the match and saw several strong chances of its own during the opening frame. In the 13th minute, senior Liana Salazar sent in a corner kick that found the head of freshman Parker Roberts just six yards in front the OSU goal. Roberts shot appeared to be heading in for her third goal of the season but the shot was cleared off the goal line by a Cowgirl defender.
In the 29th minute, less than a minute after she entered the match for the first time, junior Ashley Pankey tallied perhaps the best chance by Kansas on the day. Pankey blasted a shot from 25 yards out that required Oklahoma State goalkeeper, Michela Ongaro, into an acrobatic diving save at the far post, one of her three stops on the day.
The Jayhawks and Cowgirls appeared to be heading to the locker room at the 1-0 score line but a breakdown in the Kansas box yielded OSU second score of the afternoon. With Oklahoma State on the attack in the 44th minute, a Cowgirl sent in a hard-hit cross into the KU six-yard box. Kansas goalkeeper Maddie Dobyns attempted to fall on the ball but it popped loose, and right to the foot of OSU sophomore defender Niki McKnight. McKnight redirected the loose ball into the back of the KU net to give her team a two-goal lead into the halftime locker room.
Kansas had little luck in generating many offensive attacks in the second half. The Jayhawk’s best looks came on a pair of Liana Salazar free kicks from within 25 yards of the OSU frame. In the 55th minute, Salazar sent in a shot that cleared the Cowgirl wall but was hit right at Ongaro for her only save of the half.
Seven minutes later, Salazar found herself faced with a similar free kick, however instead of sending the ball to the middle of the OSU frame, the senior attempted to bend it inside the near post. Salazar’s bid for her fifth goal of the season wasn’t granted however, as it flew just wide of the post.
KU chances were few and far between over the final 25 minutes of regulation as the Cowgirls put numbers behind the ball to prevent any thoughts of a Kansas rally.
The Cowgirls ended the match outshooting the Jayhawks by a tally of 15-13, however KU managed to put more shots on target at 4-3. Twenty-nine fouls were called between the two squads in what was a physical match in addition to six yellow cards, four of which were on the Jayhawks.
Kansas will now close out the regular season when the Jayhawks welcome the TCU Horned Frogs to Lawrence on Friday, Oct. 30. KU and TCU will kick off at 7 p.m., in what will be the final home match for seniors Liana Salazar, Ashley Williams and Courtney Dickerson.
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