Jayhawks and Tigers to Square Off in First Round of NCAA Championship Sunday
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Back for its sixth trip to the NCAA Tournament in the last 14 seasons, the University of Kansas soccer team will take on old rival, Missouri, in NCAA Tournament action on Sunday, Nov. 16 in Lawrence. The Jayhawks will meet the Tigers in the first-round match set for 1 p.m., at Rock Chalk Park. The two former Big 12-foes will meet for the 21st time overall and the first time since 2011.
Over the Airwaves
Fans will be able to follow the Jayhawks in every postseason match this year by listening to the free, live radio broadcast via leanStream on KUAthletics.com. To listen to Derek Johnson and Nick Dodson’s call, fans can visit the free online player located at KUAthletics.com/Radio.
About the Jayhawks
Kansas, which checked in at No. 19 in the latest NSCAA coaches’ poll, is coming off a 2-1 loss to the Oklahoma Sooners in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Championship last week in Kansas City. The Jayhawks ended the regular season leading the Big 12 in several categories, including total victories, goals allowed and goals-against average.
Junior Liana Salazar leads the squad with her 12 goals. The mark is second in the Big 12, as are her 28 points and 59 shots. Three other Jayhawks have tallied three or more goals. The Jayhawk offense has netted 34 goals, eight of which came in Big 12 play. KU is averaging nearly six shots on goal per game and is managing to get almost 32 percent of those to the back of the net. Kansas attacks through several players, as 11 different Jayhawks have notched at least one goal this year and 15 different players have managed to tally five or more shots on the year.
The KU defense has been one of the best in the nation this season, allowing just 14 goals and limiting its opponents to 11 shots per match. Senior goalkeeper Kaitlyn Stroud has posted a 0.61 goals-against average in 18 games between the posts with the help of a league-leading .867 save percentage. Kansas has allowed more than one opponent goal in only two matches this year.
About the Tigers
Missouri began its season with only one loss in its first 10 outings, the one loss coming at the hands of West Virginia, 3-2. However, MU ended its season with two wins over its most recent seven matches, with the wins coming against then-No. 17 Georgia and Arkansas. The Tigers have been shutout just four times this season but have allowed 10 goals in their last five outings.
Missouri has scored 34 goals this year which includes 19 goals scored in 11 SEC games. The Tigers are notching nearly 17 shots per game and putting over 43 percent of those on frame. Senior forward Taylor Grant leads the squad with seven goals this year while senior midfielder Casey Clark leads her team in assists with 11, the second-most among SEC players this year.
The MU defense has allowed 27 opponent goals in 2014, which includes 18 in SEC play. The Tigers have tallied six shutouts in 2014 and have held opponents to one goal in seven additional outings. Missouri opponents have posted just over 13 shots per match, including nearly six shots on goal per game. Senior goalkeeper McKenzie Sauerwein has played every minute of MU’s season between the posts, amassing 79 saves, stopping over 74 percent of the shots put on goal and tallying six shutouts. Sauerwein’s 4.0 saves per game ranked sixth among SEC keepers.
Brian Blitz is in his 19th season as the head coach at MU. Blitz has guided the Missouri program to a 207-164-24 record. He has led the Tigers to six NCAA Tournament appearances, the 2009 Big 12 regular season conference championship and the 2008 Big 12 Championship title. Since joining the SEC, Missouri has won four or more league games in each of its first three years of conference play.
The Kansas Jayhawks will make their six appearance in the NCAA Championship Sunday when they welcome in the Missouri Tigers for the First Round match on Sunday. Kansas is 4-5 all-time in NCAA Tournament games with its best run coming in 2003 when the Jayhawks advanced to the Sweet 16, where they fell to UCLA, 1-0, in Los Angeles. Kansas and Missouri met for the first and only time in NCAA Tournament play that same year, with the Jayhawks coming out on top, 2-0, in the second-round game played in Columbia.
Kansas is making its first appearance in the Big Dance since 2011. That year KU welcomed the Georgia Bulldogs for the first-round game played at the Jayhawk Soccer Complex in Lawrence. UGA advanced by way of a 2-0 win.
While the majority of the Jayhawk roster will be enjoying its first experience in the NCAA Tournament, the Kansas roster features several veterans who have notched tourney action. Seniors Kaitlyn Stroud, Caroline Van Slambrouck, Jamie Fletcher and redshirt junior Liana Salazar all started in KU’s last NCAA Tournament game, a 2-0 first-round loss to Georgia in 2011. Stroud and Salazar saw action in all 90 minutes of the match, with Salazar posting a pair of shots and Stroud making four saves, two in each half. Fletcher and Van Slambrouck also played more than two-thirds of the match.
The school record for most NCAA Tournament games played belongs to five Jayhawks who played in six tournament games from 2001-04. Monica Brothers, Amy Geha, Stacy Leeper, Gabriela Quiggle and Lauren Williams played on three KU squads that advanced to the Big Dance.
Renewing the Rivalry
When Kansas and Missouri meet on the pitch Sunday, the two squads will renew a rivalry between the two states that dates back to the Civil War. While the soccer series is a mere 19 years old, the Jayhawks and Tigers have been doing battle on the collegiate playing field since 1891. The rivalry has cooled of late though as the two schools will only be playing each other in any sport for the second time since 2011. In the NCAA Softball Championship in May of 2014, the Tigers beat Kansas in the Regionals of the tournament.
On the soccer field, KU and MU have had an interesting series, which began in 1996. The Tigers won six of the first eight meetings, while the Jayhawks won or tied eight of the 12 most recent matches. In their most lost meeting in 2011, Missouri scored three goals within the final six minutes to top the Jayhawks, 3-2, in Columbia. Both schools now have six NCAA Tournament appearances, one regular-season conference title and coaches who have been at their respective schools for more than 16 years.
For the first time in a decade, Kansas soccer saw three Jayhawks named to the All-Big 12 First Team as the postseason awards were released by the conference office on Nov. 3. In all, five Jayhawk student-athletes were recognized on the league’s postseason awards lists after the team finished 15-4 overall and earned the No. 3 seed in the Big 12 Championship.
Liana Salazar, a native of Bogota, Colombia, found herself on the Big 12’s first team for the second-consecutive season after she was named to the All-Newcomer team three seasons ago as a freshman. The midfielder started all of KU’s 19 matches this season, scoring a team-leading 11 goals which ranked second in the Big 12. She also dished out four assists and scored four game-winning goals. Salazar’s selection marked the first time a Jayhawk has been unanimously selected to the league’s first team.
Caroline Van Slambrouck saw her name on the Big 12 First Team list for the first time in her successful KU career. The Kingwood, Texas native has played in 76 of 78 games as a Jayhawk, including 18 of 19 matches this season as one of the Jayhawks’ central defenders. With Van Slambrouck’s help, the KU defense allowed the fewest goals (12) in the Big 12 this season and tallied the second-lowest goals-against average in school history at 0.63 opponent goals per game.
Ashley Williams earned a spot on the first team for the first time after she was named to the All-Newcomer Team as a freshman in 2012. The Albuquerque, New Mexico product was second on the team and fourth in the Big 12 with seven goals, six of which came in Kansas’ final 13 games. Williams’ four game-winning goals also ranked second in the Big 12.
Jamie Fletcher was selected to the All-Big 12 second team for the second time in her career. The senior out of Albuquerque drilled in two goals this season and added 32 shots after missing the first seven games of the year due to injury.
Rounding out the Kansas selections was freshman Kayla Morrison, who became the sixth KU freshman in the last six seasons to claim a spot on the Big 12 All-Newcomer Team. The Corona, California native started as an outside defender in all 19 of Kansas’ games this season, averaging 75 minutes per outing. Like Van Slambrouck, Morrison was a key instrument in the Jayhawks’ lockdown defense throughout the year, helping the squad to eight shutouts, which were the most by a Jayhawk team since 2006. The freshman also added a goal and an assist in her debut season in Lawrence.
Just One Will Do It
The 2014 Jayhawks have carried on an impressive trend that has developed over the last two years when it comes to scoring. Since the start of the 2012 season, the Kansas soccer team has scored at least one goal in 38 matches. The Jayhawks’ record in those matches: 32-3-3. Kansas was won or drawn all but three matches in which it has scored, which includes a perfect 15-0-0 record this season.
The one goal trend has obviously proven fruitful for Kansas this season as, until KU’s most recent loss to West Virginia, the Jayhawks held their opponents to one goal or less in each of their first 16 matches of the year. That 16-match streak is the second-longest in program history and is only topped by the 2003 and 2004 squads, which combined to hold 29-straight opponents to one goal or fewer from Oct. 19, 2003- Nov. 3, 2004.
Save It, Stroud!
Kansas’ senior goalkeeper, Kaitlyn Stroud, has put together one of the greatest seasons a Jayhawk keeper has ever seen. The Fayetteville, Georgia native is boasting a career-low goals against average of 0.61, which leads the Big 12 and is only topped by 18 other keepers in the NCAA who have logged more than 1,000 minutes. She has saved almost 87 percent of the shots KU opponents have put on frame, which is also the best in the conference and ranks 19th in the nation.
Stroud is on pace to tally one of the best seasons statistically ever seen by a KU keeper. If her stellar defense continues at this pace, she’ll record the second lowest single-season goals-against average and tally the second-most wins by a KU keeper in a single season. Megan Miller (2001-04) currently holds the record in each of the goalkeeping categories with a GAA of 0.57, a save percentage of .881 and 11 shutouts, all of which came in 2004.
On the career goalkeeping charts, Stroud has continued to move up this year. She currently sits third on the all-time saves chart with 276 stops. Her 1.18 career goals-against average is the second-lowest by a Jayhawk and her .793 save percentage is No. 2 on the KU charts. Stroud’s 13 career shutouts rank third all-time and are just three shy of tying Julie Hanley for second on the all-time shutouts list.
Turning Things Around
Still with the postseason on tap, the 2014 Jayhawks have already achieved one of the best turnarounds in program history. Last season, Kansas won seven games and tied twice, while this year’s team has already picked up eight more victories and still has one regular-season game to go. This mark ties program’s best turnaround which belongs to the 2003 squad that also won seven more games than the year prior.
Head coach Mark Francis is no stranger to monumental turnarounds. After a 2-17 season during first season at South Alabama, Francis led the Jaguars to an 18-3-1 mark during the 1997 season. The 16-win turnaround is still the biggest in NCAA Division I soccer history.
First to Score, Wins Galore
Over its past 60 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 60-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 32-1-2 in those games, which includes a 15-0-0 mark this year.
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 game in that same 60-game span when finding itself trailing 1-0 at any point in a match. The Jayhawks are 0-23-1 in those games over the last two years, including a 0-5-0 mark this year.
With the release of the latest Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) report by the NCAA last week, several good signs stick out for the Jayhawks. Kansas checked in at No. 27 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 third-straight week the Jayhawks sat inside the top-20.
This week’s report shows that the Big 12 is among the nation’s toughest conferences after the first three weeks of league play. The conference tallied the second-highest ranking in the week’s RPI and boasts seven of its nine teams inside the top-50.
This Day in KU Soccer History
NOVEMBER 16, 2003 – The Jayhawks and Tigers will meet 11 years to the day after one of the most memorable games in the series’ history. Playing in Columbia in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, Kansas and Missouri squared off for a spot in the Sweet 16, a first for either program. With the score deadlocked at 0-0 with less than 13 minutes remaining, Caroline Smith shot in her 19th of the year to put KU up 1-0. Eleven minutes later, Carmel Kaplinger sealed the win to give her team the eventual 2-0 win.
The winner of the KU-MU contest will play the winner of the No. 4-seed Washington-Rider match on Friday, Nov. 21 in Palo Alto, California, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. If the Jayhawks win each of their first two matches, they will then play in the third-round game on Sunday, Nov. 23, again in Palo Alto.