Kansas Set to Open Big 12 Championship with Mountaineers
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas soccer team will take part in the Big 12 Soccer Championship beginning Wednesday in Kansas City, Mo. The eighth-seeded Jayhawks will meet top-seeded West Virginia in the quarterfinal match set for 5:30 p.m. at Swope Soccer Village.
Follow the Jayhawks
Fans can watch a free web stream of every tournament game via Big12Sports.com. Kansas will also provide live play-by-play audio coverage of the Jayhawks’ weekend contests via Jayhawk Digital Passport. Don’t forget to follow on Twitter for live in-game updates at @KUWSoccer.
Kansas will meet West Virginia for the third time Wednesday, but the Jayhawks have yet to beat their relatively new Big 12 foes, with the Mountaineers shutting out Kansas in their previous two contests. The Jayhawks fell to the Mountaineers in the programs’ first meeting a year ago in Lawrence, 1-0. In the two teams’ previous meeting this season, the Mountaineers found the back of the net twice in the first 15 minutes to propel them to a 2-0 win in Morgantown.
About the Jayhawks
Kansas (7-10-2) closed out its regular season last week with a thrilling 2-1 victory over the Oklahoma Sooners in Lawrence to earn the eighth and final spot to this week’s Big 12 Championship in Lawrence. KU earned a spot to the conference tournament for the 13th time in the 15-year tenure of head coach Mark Francis and is a No. 8 seed for the second time.
The Kansas offense has been up and down this year, averaging only 1.0 goal per match. KU has managed to put in two or more goals in seven games this season, but has been shutout in a program-record 10 games in 2013. Senior Caroline Kastor leads the squad in both goals and assists, notching five and three, respectively. Junior Jamie Fletcher has put in the fourth-most shots among Big 12 players this season with 62 and is tied for the team lead with three assists.
The Kansas defense has been strong this season, allowing just over one opponent goal per game. Goalkeeper Kaitlyn Stroud has played in goal for every minute of KU’s season thus far and has tallied five shutouts on the year. She leads Big 12 goalkeepers in saves and is amassing over five per match. She has already posted a career high with her 99 saves on the year. The junior is boasting a 1.13 goals against average as well as a .818 save percentage, the third highest in the Big 12.
Scouting the Mountaineers
West Virginia (13-3-2) claimed its second-straight Big 12 regular-season title two weeks ago with its win over Oklahoma in Norman. The Mountaineers won nine straight, including seven in conference play, to earn themselves the league trophy. WVU will be trying to rebound after its first loss in over a month when it lost to Texas Tech in their regular-season finale on Oct. 27.
The WVU offense is one of the best in the nation having scored 42 goals already this year for a top-30 scoring offense rank in the NCAA. The Mountaineers have tallied the second-most shots in the Big 12 this season at 310 but have managed to put only 38.5 percent of those on frame. Frances Silva leads her team, and the conference, with 12 goals. Silva is also second in the NCAA with her 12 assists in 2013.
West Virginia has allowed 10 goals through its eight conference games, the second most of any Big 12 team, and is giving up 9.2 opponent shots per match. The Mountaineers have also seen their opponents attempt five penalty kicks on the year. Senior goalkeeper Sara Keene has started all 18 of her team’s matches and is allowing 1.24 opponent goals per 90 minutes. Her .676 save percentage is last among Big 12 keepers.
Nikki Izzo-Brown is in her 18th year as the head coach of the West Virginia women’s soccer program. She ranks in the top-20 among active NCAA DI coaches with her 259 wins and a .702 winning percentage. Izzo-Brown has never had a losing season as a head coach and has led WVU to 13-straight 10-plus win seasons. She has guided the Mountaineers to back-to-back regular-season league championships in their first two years as members of the Big 12 Conference.
In the 17 years of the Big 12 tournament, Kansas has amassed a record of 3-9-3 in its 12 appearances. The Jayhawks have been a No. 8 seed twice before, falling to top-seeded Nebraska in the quarterfinals of the 2000 tournament and losing to No. 1 seed Missouri in overtime in the 2009 Big 12 Tournament. Kansas is 3-7-2 all-time in Big 12 quarterfinal games.
In four of the Jayhawks’ last six 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.
Three Jayhawks saw their names listed on the league’s All-Big 12 teams released earlier this week. Sophomore Liana Salazar found her name on on the All-Big 12 first team for the first time, junior Caroline Kastor was named to the second team and freshman Aurélie Gagnet made the Big 12’s All-Newcomer Team. The announcement means Kansas has had at least one Jayhawk on an All-Big 12 team each year since the current format began in 2000. The three Jayhawks selected also marked the third-straight season three or more KU representatives were selected to the all-conference teams.
odds and EnDs
- Over its last 41 games, Kansas is 19-3-4 when scoring at least one goal, including a 7-1-1 mark this season.
- Junior Jamie Fletcher’s goal in the 88th minute last Friday was the latest game-winning goal in regulation put in by a Jayhawk since Shannon McCabe shot in the go-ahead goal versus Duke in 2006 with 27 seconds to go in the second half.
- Caroline Kastor is currently the active Big 12 leader in career points (66) and goals (26).
- Over the last two seasons (39 games), 12 of KU’s 18 loses have come by one goal.
- With her multi-goal game versus Baylor (10/27), Caroline Kastor became the fourth Jayhawk in school history to tally three or more multi-goal games. (Caroline Smith – 11, Jessica Smith – 3, Natalie Hoogveld – 3)
- Head coach Mark Francis needs only four more victories to hit 200 for his collegiate coaching career.
After being called offside almost three times per game over their first 13 games of the season (36 times), the Jayhawks have managed to keep the offside flag down more than any other Big 12 team this conference season. In its final six games of the year Kansas was called offside just three times and was called off for a Big 12-low, six times during conference play. Kansas tied the school record for consecutive offside-less matches of five from Oct. 11-Oct. 27.
FIRST TO SCORE, Wins Galore
Over its past 39 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 39-game span, the Jayhawks have been on the losing end only once in the contests which they have put in the match’s first score. Kansas has amassed a record of 17-1-2 in those games, including last Friday’s 2-1 win over Oklahoma. 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 match in that same 39-game stretch when finding itself trailing 1-0 at any point in a match. The Jayhawks are 0-18-1 in those games over the last two seasons, including a 0-10-0 mark this year.
If the Jayhawks win their quarterfinal matchup, they will take on the winner of the Baylor-Iowa State game on Friday, Nov. 8 in the semifinal slated for 5:30 p.m.
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