Late Goal Sinks Kansas in Big 12 Final, 1-0
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A goal off the foot of Texas Tech’s Gwennie Puente with just over five minutes remaining in regulation proved to be the difference as the Kansas Jayhawks fell to the Red Raiders, 1-0, in the Big 12 Championship final Sunday afternoon inside Swope Soccer Village.
The loss dropped Kansas to 10-9-2 on the year, while 18th-ranked Texas Tech moved to 13-3-5 in its 2015 campaign.
“I thought we did more than enough to win the game today,” said head coach Mark Francis. “But Texas Tech came up big when they needed to and they’re the ones lifting the trophy. It was a great game and I’m sure the people watching enjoyed it. I’m obviously disappointed for our kids and our seniors, but making it this far is a great accomplishment and something we can hang our hats on.”
Liana Salazar led the squad with three shots on the night.The Jayhawks took it to the Red Raiders from the starting whistle, outshooting TTU 5-1 over the opening 20 minutes of action. Kansas best look in the first half though, came in the 28th minute when senior Liana Salazar was taken down in the Red Raider penalty area and awarded a penalty kick.
For the second time this tournament, the senior out of Bogota, Colombia was faced with a penalty try to give her team a first half lead. The senior sent a low shot toward the inside of the right post but the shot was stopped but TTU keeper, Lauren Watson.
Kansas ended the half with an 11-6 edge on the shot count but the match remained level at 0-0 as both squads headed for the locker rooms.
The match remained a tightly contested one in the second half with neither squad able to claim clear momentum. KU managed a handful of good looks to break open the scoring but still couldn’t find the back of the net.
In the 82nd minute Kansas was on the attack when Salazar found Ashley Williams on a well-timed run inside the TTU 18-yard box. Williams took one touch and sent in the shot but the line judge called Williams back for offside, nullifying the goal and sending KU the other way with another missed opportunity.
The Red Raiders saw their best chance of the match three minutes later and made the Jayhawks pay after Gwennie Puente was found open in the middle of the KU box and sent home her third goal of the year.
The goal came with just five minutes remaining in regulation and, despite some frantic tries by Kansas to send in a late equalizer, wound up to be the game-winner, lifting Texas Tech to its first Big 12 Championship title.
Salazar and sophomore Kayla Morrison led the squad with three shots a piece and helped KU outshoot the Red Raiders by a final tally of 15-11. Sophomore goalkeeper Maddie Dobyns collected a pair of saves in the loss.
Despite the loss, Salazar was named to the All-Tournament team for the second-consecutive year, while Dobyns also earned a spot for the first time in her career.
Kansas will now be forced to wait to learn its NCAA Tournament fate when the field is announced tomorrow afternoon. The Selection Show will be aired on NCAA.com beginning at 3:30 p.m. (CT).
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