Salazar Leads Jayhawks Past Bears, into Big 12 Championship Final
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Senior Liana Salazar struck twice to carry the Kansas soccer team past the Baylor Bears, 2-0, in the semifinals of the Big 12 Championship Friday night at Swope Soccer Village. The win punched the Jayhawks’ ticket to the tournament final for the first time in program history, where they will face the 18th-ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders on Sunday, Nov. 8 on FS1.
The victory moved Kansas to 10-8-1 and gave the Jayhawks their sixth season with 10 wins or more in the last eight years. The Bear’s loss dropped them to 9-6-4 in their 2015 campaign.
“I’m really happy for this group,” said head coach Mark Francis following the match. “Anytime you play Baylor it’s a battle and for this group to come out a play the way they did and get this win is a real testament to their character and their mentality. The match on Sunday is going to be a great game of soccer. I’m excited and I know our players are too. I think it will be a great game.”
Liana Salazar slotted home the eventual game-winner in the 35th minute of KU’s 2-0 win over Baylor Friday night in the Big 12 Championship semifinals.As she has been her entire career at Kansas, Liana Salazar was the offensive spark her team needed in the team’s fourth all-time appearance in a Big 12 Championship semifinal. Just over 35 minutes in the senior out of Colombia struck for the sixth time this year from the top of the Baylor penalty area. Freshman Grace Hagan won a ball near the end line and quickly sent a pass back to the top of the 18-yard box. Sophomore Lois Heuchan took one touch to redirect the pass to the feet of a wide-open Salazar, who promptly slotted home her 27th-career goal to the inside of the right post.
The goal, which moved Salazar to No. 2 alone on KU’s all-time goal scorer charts, put the Jayhawks up 1-0, but still with the majority of the match to play against the physical and pesky Baylor squad.
The two teams battled hard over the next 45 minutes but neither managed to find the back of the net, that is until Salazar once again made a play that proved her mettle as a three-time All-Big 12 First Team selection.
In the 79th minute, with Baylor prepping to form another attack, Salazar stepped in front of a pass between the two Baylor center-backs just 25 yards from the BU frame. The senior, needing to beat only the BU keeper, took two dribbles and sent a shot in from the PK spot. The low drive darted past the outstretched arms of the keeper and into the net to give Kansas a big two-goal lead with less than 12 minutes to play.
Salazar’s brace was the third of her career and secured her team’s spot as one of the two final teams left standing in the Big 12 Championship. KU secured the win and its sixth shutout of the season, holding Baylor to eighth shots, just two of which were on goal.
Salazar led her team with four shots on the day and added to KU’s total of 11.
Kansas will now look ahead to the final against 18th-ranked Texas Tech, which is set for Sunday, Nov. 8 at Swope Soccer Village. A win would clinch the Jayhawks a spot in the NCAA Tournament and be Kansas’ first ever Big 12 Championship title. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m., and will be televised on FS1.
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