Kansas to Face No. 18 Texas Tech in Big 12 Title Game
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas Jayhawks will look to claim their first Big 12 tournament trophy when they go up against the Texas Tech Red Raiders on Sunday, Nov. 8 at Swope Soccer Village. KU and TTU will both be playing in their first Big 12 Championship title game, which will kick off at 3 p.m., on FS1.
ABOUT THE JAYHAWKS
Kansas is coming off a dominating 2-0 win over the No. 2-seed Baylor Bears on Friday night in the tournament semifinals. Senior Liana Salazar netted a pair of goals to help the Jayhawks earn their first bid to the Big 12 final. Kansas is currently riding a three-game unbeaten streak and with its victory over Baylor, claimed its 12th 10-win season in the 17-year tenure of head coach Mark Francis.
The KU offense is coming off two-straight multi-goal outings in the first two rounds of the Big 12 Championship. Twelve of KU’s 24 goals this season have come within the final 25 minutes of play, which includes two of the Jayhawks’ four goals in this week’s tournament. On the year, Kansas is averaging over 16 shots per match and is putting 38.4 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 seven 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 19 assists.
The Jayhawks are coming off their first shutout since Oct. 11 after keeping a clean sheet against the Baylor Bears Friday. Jayhawk opponents have notched 13.2 shots per game with a total of 102 on target, or an average of 5.1 per match. Sophomore Maddie Dobyns has started all 20 matches in goal for the Jayhawks. She is boasting a save percentage of .773 and has a goals-against average of 1.10 with 75 saves in over 1,800 minutes of action.
ABOUT THE RED RAIDERS
The 18-ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders, like the Jayhawks, are making their first appearance in the Big 12 Championship final after upsetting the top-seeded West Virginia Mountaineers, 1-0, in the semifinal Friday. TTU is unbeaten in its last five games, which included a 1-0 decision against the Jayhawks in Lubbock on Oct. 23. The Red Raiders boast the two-time Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year in senior Janine Beckie, who has amassed 11 goals and three assists this season.
The Texas Tech offense has been solid this season, only being shut out on three occasions and scoring multiple goals nine times. The Red Raiders are averaging 1.45 goals and over 14 shots per match. TTU has also gotten over 43 percent of its tries on frame. Seven different players have recorded at least two goals on the season. Senior forward Janine Beckie leads her team and the Big 12 with 11 goals this season, while senior midfielder Ali Murphy is tops on her squad with five assists. Eight different Red Raiders have posted at least 10 shots this season, with Beckie leading the way via her 99 shots, which is over a third of her team’s total shot tally.
The TTU defense has been stout over the last month, recently allowing just four goals in its last eight outings and posting four shutouts in that span, which includes a clean sheet against West Virginia on Nov. 6. Texas Tech has allowed an average of 13.6 opponent shots in its first 20 games, in which Red Raider opponents are getting 5.3 shots on frame per match. Junior goalkeeper Lauren Watson has started in goal in all but one of TTU’s 20 outings. She has tallied 85 saves for an average of 4.3 per appearance and has collected eight solo shutouts. She also is boasting a goals-against average of 0.69 and a save percentage of .859.
Tom Stone is in his ninth season as the head coach of the Texas Tech women’s soccer program. In his first eight seasons with the Red Raiders, Stone amassed a 94-54-16 record for a .622 winning percentage that is the highest for any coach in program history. Stone is the only Texas Tech coach to lead the Red Raiders to the NCAA Tournament, including the team’s first ever trip to the Sweet 16 in 2014.
LAST TIME OUT
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.
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.
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.
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 24 goals Kansas has scored this season, 12 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 six 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 80 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 80-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 40-1-3 in those games, which includes an 8-0-1 mark this year. The Jayhawks’ win over Baylor on Nov. 6 marked their 31st-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 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 53 matches. The Jayhawks’ record in those matches: 42-7-4. Kansas was won or drawn all but seven matches in which it has scored, including a 25-4-1 record in those instances this season and last.
With a win in the Big 12 Championship final, Kansas will clinch a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the seventh time in program history. The selection show will air on Monday, Nov. 9 at 3:30 p.m. (CT) on NCAA.com.
KUAthletics.com: The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.