Jayhawks Set for Clash with Bears in Big 12 Semifinals
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LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas soccer team will face the Baylor Bears in the semifinal round of the Big 12 Championship Friday at 8 p.m., in Kansas City, Missouri. The Jayhawks will look to advance to the conference tournament final for the first time in program history when they hit the pitch at Swope Soccer Village. The match will be available to be viewed on the Big 12 Digital Network on Big12Sports.com.
ABOUT THE JAYHAWKS
Kansas is coming off a thrilling 2-1 win over the No. 3-seed Texas Longhorns on Wednesday night in the tournament quarterfinals. Behind goals from senior Ashely Williams and junior Jackie Georgoulis, the Jayhawks earned their first bid to the Big 12 semifinal since 2008. Kansas is looking to pick up its 13th 10-win season in the 17-year tenure of head coach Mark Francis.
The KU offense is coming off its first multi-goal outing since Oct. 4, scoring a pair of goals against the Texas Longhorns in the Big 12 quarterfinal. On the year, Kansas is averaging over 16 shots per match and is putting 38.2 percent of those shots on target. Kansas has seen seven different goal scorers, each 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 11 goals in its last five games and has not posted a shutout since Oct. 11. Jayhawk opponents have notched 13.5 shots per game with a total of 100 on target, or an average of 5.3 per match. Sophomore Maddie Dobyns has started all 19 matches in goal for the Jayhawks. She is boasting a save percentage of .768 and has a goals-against average of 1.16 with 73 saves in over 1,700 minutes of action.
ABOUT THE BEARS
The Jayhawks will go up against one of the hottest teams in the country when they take on the Baylor Bears Friday. BU has been beaten just once in its last 14 outings, which came at the hands of Kansas on Oct. 9 in Lawrence. In that span, the Bears have outscored their opponents 30-8. Prior to the 14-game stretch, Baylor was winless in its first five outings, going 0-4-1.
The Baylor offense has been impressive in 2015, scoring 33 goals for an average of 1.83 per match. During their 14-match winning streak, the Bears have been shutout just once (in their loss to Kansas) and have averaged 2.1 goals per match. BU is averaging 16.7 shots per game and has gotten 43.2 percent of those tries on frame. Nine different players have recorded at least two goals on the season. Freshman forward Lauren Piercy leads her team with six goals and 48 shots this season. Freshman midfielder Sarah King is tops on her team and in the Big 12 with 10 assists on the year. She is joined by six of her teammates who have posted multiple assists in 2015.
The Bear defense began the year on rocky ground, allowing nine goals in its first five outings but has since allowed just seven goals over its last 13 matches. BU has allowed an average of 7.7 opponent shots in its first 18 games, which included a season-low three shots from Colorado College on Sept. 20. Junior goalkeeper Sara Martinson has started in goal in each of BU’s last 13 outings and appeared in 17 games total. She has tallied 33 saves for an average of 1.8 per appearance and has collected five shutouts. She also is boasting a goals-against average of 0.69 and a save percentage of .750.
Paul Jobson is in his first season as the head coach of the Baylor women’s soccer program. Jobson spent the seven previous seven seasons at Baylor as an assistant and co-head coach. Since arriving at Baylor in 2008, he has played a significant role in increasing the program’s win total in four of the last six years, culminating in the program’s first Big 12 Championship title and deepest run in the NCAA Tournament with a 2012 Sweet 16 appearance.
LAST TIME OUT
Senior Ashley Williams struck less than two minutes into the match to give her team a lead it would never relinquish as the No. 6 seed Kansas Jayhawks withstood the No. 3 seed Texas Longhorns, 2-1, Wednesday evening in the Big 12 Championship quarterfinals at Swope Soccer Village. The win gave Kansas its first trip to the conference tournament semifinals since 2008, where it will meet the No. 2 seed Baylor Bears on Friday, Nov. 6 at 8 p.m.
Kansas got out to a quick start against the Longhorns after it took less than two minutes for the Jayhawks to find the back of the net. Junior Tayler Estrada took the ball into the left side of the UT penalty area where she played a low cross to the far post. The on-point pass went right to the foot of Williams who used one touch to send in her fourth goal of the season. The goal, which came 1:57 into the match, was the quickest scored by Kansas on the year and put KU in prime position to pick up its first Big 12 Championship win since 2008, as the Jayhawks have been unbeaten in 29-straight matches when scoring the game’s first goal.
Clinging to the one-goal lead with just over 15 minutes to play in regulation, Jackie Georgoulis found herself in the right place at the right time to send home her team’s second goal of the evening. In the midst of a corner kick set piece, junior Hanna Kallmaier took a hard-hit strike from the top of the PK box that slammed off the UT frame. The loose ball bounced right to Georgoulis, who brought the ball to her feet and sent in a shot that sailed past the Longhorns All-Big 12 goalkeeper, Abby Smith. The goal was the second of Georgoulis’ career and, for a moment gave her team a commanding two-goal lead heading into the final minutes of the match.
In the 19 years of the Big 12 Championship, Kansas has amassed a record of 3-11-3 in its 15 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 and is 0-2-1 in semifinal appearances.
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 22 goals Kansas has scored this season, 11 of them have come within the final 25 minutes of regulation or in overtime. Seven KU game-winning goals have also come within the final 25 minutes of action, including Jackie Georgoulis’ goal in the 74th minute versus Texas (11/4).
Speaking of game-winners, a total of five 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 22 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 (141), seven of their teammates can boast adding 10 or more attempts to the team’s total of 309.
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 79 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 79-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 39-1-3 in those games, which includes a 7-0-1 mark this year. The Jayhawks’ win over Texas on Nov. 4 marked their 30th-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 52 matches. The Jayhawks’ record in those matches: 41-7-4. Kansas was won or drawn all but seven matches in which it has scored, including a 24-4-1 record in those instances this season and last.
If the Jayhawks win their semifinal matchup, they will take on the winner of the West Virginia-Texas Tech game on Sunday, Nov. 8 in the final slated for 3 p.m. The championship match will be televised on Fox Sports1.
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