Kansas to Open Big 12 Championship with Texas Wednesday
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas soccer team is set to take part in the Big 12 Soccer Championship beginning Wednesday in Kansas City, Missouri. The sixth-seeded Jayhawks will meet the third-seeded Texas Longhorns in the quarterfinal match set for 8 p.m., at Swope Soccer Village. The match can be seen via live stream on the Big 12 Digital Network.
ABOUT THE JAYHAWKS
Kansas is looking for a deep run in this week’s Big 12 Championship if it wants to extend its season into a possible NCAA Tournament berth. Kansas is coming off a 1-1 draw with the TCU Horned Frogs on Oct. 30 in Lawrence, which snapped a three-game losing streak, all of which came on the road. KU is a No. 6 seed in the conference tournament for the third time and first time since 2012. The Jayhawks are 0-2-0 all-time as a six seed.
The KU offense has hit a rough patch recently, scoring just one goal in its final 381 minutes of the regular season. On the year, Kansas is averaging over 16 shots per match and is putting 38.5 percent of those shots on target. Kansas has seen seven different goal scorers, six of whom have tallied multiple goals. Senior Liana Salazar leads the squad with five goals on the year. Salazar, fellow senior Ashley Williams and freshman Parker Roberts have combined for almost half of the team’s total shots this season as well as nine of the squad’s 16 assists.
After wrapping up a 307-minute opponent scoreless streak on Oct. 16, Kansas has since allowed 10 goals in its last four games and has not posted a shutout since Oct. 11. Jayhawk opponents have notched 13.4 shots per game with a total of 93 on target, or an average of 5.2 per match. Sophomore Maddie Dobyns has started all 17 matches in goal for the Jayhawks. She is boasting a save percentage of .761 and has a goals-against average of 1.16 with 67 saves in over 1,600 minutes of action.
ABOUT THE LONGHORNS
The Texas Longhorns had a roller coaster regular season thus far, posting a win and a draw over No. 14 UCLA and No. 18 Ohio State, respectively, and reeling off an unbeaten streak five-straight matches during Big 12 play, but dropping each of their last two Big 12 outings. UT clinched a top-three finish in the final Big 12 standings, marking its second top-three finish in the last two seasons.
The Texas offense has come on strong to close out the regular season, scoring 12 goals in its final six outings. The Longhorns are averaging just over 15 shots per game and have gotten 38 percent of those tries on frame. Eleven different players have recorded either a goal or an assist. Freshman forward Alexa Adams is the only Longhorn to enter the score sheet more than three times this year, posting six goals and also leads the group with her four assists. Freshman forward Mikayla Flores leads the squad with 38 shots on the year, but is joined by five of her teammates who have posted 20 or more shots in 2015.
The Longhorn defense has tallied six shutouts on the year, three of which have come within the last seven outings. UT has allowed an average of 14.6 opponent shots in its 17 games, but that includes 31 shots from West Virginia on Sept. 25. Senior Abby Smith, the Big 12 coaches’ selection All-Big 12 First Team, has started in goal and played every minute of UT’s season thus far. She leads the conference with 94 saves for an average of 5.5 per appearance, which has helped her collect six shutouts. She also is boasting a goals-against average of 0.88 and a save percentage of .855.
Angela Kelly is in her fourth year as the head coach of the Texas women’s soccer program. Kelly has led the Longhorns to a 39-29-12 record in her three-plus seasons and took the team back to the NCAA Tournament last year after a three-year hiatus.
LAST TIME OUT
Seniors Liana Salazar and Ashley Williams connected to score their team’s lone goal of the match as the Kansas Jayhawks eventually played to a 1-1 draw with the TCU Horned Frogs on a rainy Friday night inside Rock Chalk Park. With the result, Kanas clinched the No. 6 seed in next week’s Big 12 Championship and will play the No. 3 seed Texas Longhorns in the tournament quarterfinals on Wednesday, Nov. 4 at 8 p.m.
On a night when the Jayhawks were honoring three seniors who were seeing their final match inside Rock Chalk Park, it was fitting that two of those seniors would connect for the team’s lone goal of the night. Just passed the 30-minute mark, Williams found space down the right side of TCU’s third and played a long cross toward the far post of the Horned Frog frame. The pass curled to the head her fellow senior, Salazar, who headed it in her fifth goal of the season, just inside the left post.
Salazar’s goal marked the 26th of her KU career and moved her into a tie for second on the Jayhawks’ all-time goal scoring list.
TCU come out in the second half intent on not going out in their final regular season match without a fight. It took the Horned Frogs 11 minutes into the second from to tie up the score. Just passed midfield, forward Michelle Prokof played forward a through ball to teammate McKenzie Oliver, who had snuck in behind the KU defense on a well-timed run. After beating on defender, Oliver chipped a shot over Kansas keeper, Maddie Dobyns, who had run off her line in an attempt to stop the advancing Horned Frog. Oliver’s shot evaded the Jayhawk keeper and bounced into the back of the net to level the score at 1-1.
In the 19 years of the Big 12 Championship, Kansas has amassed a record of 3-11-3 in its 14 appearances. The Jayhawks have been a No. 6 seed twice before, falling to No. 3-seed Nebraska, 2-1, in 2003 and losing to No. 3 seed Texas in the quarterfinals of the 2012 Big 12 Championship. Kansas is 3-9-2 all-time in Big 12 quarterfinal games.
In four of the Jayhawks’ last eight league championship appearances, they have played to a draw and gone to penalty kicks. However, they have failed to advance in all but one of those matches, with the lone win coming against Texas Tech in 2009.
Kansas is in good company being the No. 6 seed. The sixth-seeded team has advanced past the quarterfinals in five of the last nine Big 12 tournaments, including each of the last two. Since the Big 12 Championship moved to Kansas City two years ago, the No. 6 seed has reached the tournament final in both years.
A pair of Kansas Jayhawks were selected by the league’s coaches to the All-Big 12 teams which were released by the conference office Monday. Senior midfielder Liana Salazar claimed First Team All-Big 12 honors for the third-straight season, while freshman Parker Roberts was named to the Big 12’s All-Freshman Team.
Salazar, a native of Bogota, Colombia, found herself on the Big 12’s first team for the third-consecutive season. The midfielder started all of KU’s 18 matches this season, scoring a team-leading five goals which ranked eighth in the Big 12. She also dished out four assists and tallied 55 shots. In the Jayhawks’ regular-season finale against TCU on Oct. 30, she scored her 26th-career goal, which moved her to No. 2 on Kansas’ all-time goal scorer list.
Salazar’s selection made her the second Jayhawk to claim a spot on the All-Big 12 First Team in three-straight seasons (Caroline Smith [2003-05]).
Rounding out the Kansas selections was Roberts, who became the seventh KU freshman in the last seven seasons to claim a spot on the Big 12 All-Newcomer Team. The Leawood, Kansas native started in the KU midfield in 16 of Kansas’ 18 games this season, averaging 78 minutes per outing. In her first season as a Jayhawk, Roberts posted three goals, all of which were game-winners, an assist and 40 shots.
A TALE OF TWO SEASONS
It appears as though the Jayhawks have fielded two different teams this season: the team that began the year with only two victories in its first seven matches, and the one that rattled off six wins in its next seven outings, which helped KU turn around the season. The difference in squads over those two periods of the 2015 season is apparent by much more than just looking at wins and losses.
In its first seven matches, the Kansas offense endured several stagnant stretches, netting only five goals, posting two scoreless streaks of more than 200 minutes and being shutout in four of those seven outings. KU was posting 15.4 shots per match but only putting 38 percent of those on goal. Since then though, Kansas’ offense has been stellar. In its next seven games, the Jayhawks shot in 14 goals, which were scored by seven different players. KU has also averaged 18 shots in those seven outings and has put nearly 43 percent of them on target.
It wasn’t just the Kansas offense that has seen marked improvement, the KU defense has also taken a turn for the better. During the Jayhawks’ 2-4-1 start, they allowed nine goals, but in the seven games to follow, allowed only four opponent goals to find the back of their net, which included four shutouts. The Kansas defense has also substantially dropped the opposition’s shot-on-goal percentage, which measures how many of a team’s shot attempts are put on frame. In KU’s first seven outings, teams were managing to put just under half (49.3 percent) of their shots on goal, but over its next seven matches, that number has dropped to a minuscule 31.7 percent.
KU has seen numerous instances of late-game heroics already this year. Of the 20 goals Kansas has scored this season, 10 of them have come within the final 25 minutes of regulation or in overtime. Six KU game-winning goals have also come within the final 25 minutes of action, including Ashley Williams’ goal in the 89th minute versus Oklahoma (10/11).
Speaking of game-winners, a total of four different Jayhawks have posted at least one game-winning goal this season.
SPREADING THE WEALTH
The Kansas offense has shown to be a tough assignment for opposing defenses this year after a host of Jayhawks have made their presence known on the stat sheet. Six different Jayhawks have netted at least two goals, while a total of 10 have had their hand in at least one of the team’s 20 goals thus far in 2015, either scoring or assisting. Seven additional players have managed to tally at least one shot. While seniors Liana Salazar and Ashley Williams and freshman Parker Roberts have notched almost half of the team’s total shots (136), seven of their teammates can boast adding 10 or more attempts to the team’s total of 244.
This is a trend that carried over from last year’s squad, as nine different players managed to post double-figure shots and 14 Jayhawks tallied at least one goal or assist in 2014.
With the release of the season’s several Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) report by the NCAA this week, several good signs stick out for the Jayhawks. Kansas checked in at No. 82 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 16th-straight RPI release that Kansas has found itself ranked among the top-85 in the NCAA, dating back to last season.
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 boasts six of its nine teams inside the top-85. The conference’s high ranking also means the Jayhawks could get plenty more chances to up their national standing with potentially three more matches against league foes in the conference tournament.
OUTSTANDING IN OVERTIME
Kansas’ draw with TCU on Oct. 30 added to a recent trend of successful outcomes when the Jayhawks play in overtime matches. KU’s Sept. 4 loss to Santa Clara in the 102nd minute marked the end of an impressive streak for KU as the team had been unbeaten in seven-straight matches that had gone to overtime. Before that, Kansas’ previous loss in an overtime match came at the hands of Northwestern on Aug.19, 2012.
In his career, Mark Francis’ KU teams are 15-18-23 in matches decided in overtime for a winning percentage of .473, but over the last four-plus seasons, the Jayhawks have turned up their game in extra time. Including its extra time wins over Colorado College, Arkansas and Baylor, Kansas is 9-4-2 in overtime games since the start of the 2011 season.
FIRST TO SCORE, WINS GALORE
Over its past 78 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 78-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 38-1-3 in those games, which includes a 6-0-1 mark this year. The Jayhawks’ draw against TCU on Oct. 30 marked their 29th-consecutive unbeaten match which KU has scored first.
On the flip side, KU hasn’t been quite as fortunate when its opponents have gotten on the board first. Kansas’ wins over Colorado College and Arkansas on Sept. 13 and Sept. 17, respectively, were the first and only wins in that same 78-game span when finding itself trailing 1-0 at any point in a match. The Jayhawks are 2-32-1 in those games over the last three years, including an 0-6-0 mark in 2014 and a 2-8-0 mark this season.
JUST ONE WILL DO IT
The 2015 Jayhawks have already carried on an impressive trend that has developed over the last three seasons when it comes to scoring. Since the start of the 2012 season, the Kansas soccer team has scored at least one goal in 51 matches. The Jayhawks’ record in those matches: 40-7-4. Kansas was won or drawn all but seven matches in which it has scored, including a 23-4-1 record in those instances this season and last.
If the Jayhawks win their quarterfinal matchup, they will take on the winner of the Baylor-TCU game on Friday, Nov. 6 in the semifinal slated for 8 p.m. The match will be available to watch via a free live stream through Big12Sports.com, with the championship match on Sunday, Nov. 9 to be televised on Fox Sports1.
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