Kansas soccer breaks long scorless streak, beats Baylor

It had been a long scoreless streak, one that lasted through the first four games of conference play for the Kansas women’s soccer team.

With growing frustration the players hoped this would end.

But Kansas put that stress away as it managed to grab its first conference victory of the season with a 2-0 victory over Baylor at Jayhawk Soccer Complex on Sunday.

“I thought we battled and had intensity today which was great,” Kansas coach Mark Francis said. “The other key thing that we talked about was that when we had the ball we played our game and to our strengths.”

The Jayhawks finally broke the goalless drought in the 11th minute of the game when sophomore Liana Salazar connected a pass with senior Caroline Kastor.

Kastor then took the ball and dribbled quickly into opponent’s territory and hit the ball past Baylor’s Michelle Kloss giving Kansas the early lead.

“Based on the fact that every player ran 100 yards explains it all,” Kastor said of the streak. “There’s obviously been a lot of pressure and we’ve kind of had a scoring drought so, that felt great to get a goal.”

For the last few weeks Kastor’s had opportunities, but to see it go in helped.

“Caroline’s been having those opportunities she’s just been a bit unlucky,” Francis said. “I think for her confidence it will be great, but also the other forwards. “

After the goal Baylor looked to equalize the game.

It appeared they did in the 20th minute when a header went into the goal. However, the offside flag went up.

The Bears had another chance at goal in the 23rd minute, and converted the header into the net but once again it was called offsides.

After that the Jayhawks defense held off the other Baylor attack chances.

The rest of the half was a defensive battle with neither team able to capitalize on other chances.

In the second half, the defense held firm with junior goalkeeper Kaitlyn Stroud making some important stops.

Her seven total saves, along with the help from the defensive line helped Kansas secure the clean sheet.

“The way they play they’re going to put a lot of pressure especially on set pieces, free kicks, corners, long throws,” Francis said. “They’re going to put a lot of bodies in the box. They’re going to throw a lot of people at you.”

After battling off the Bears for much of the half the Jayhawks got an insurance score in the 76th minute when Kastor put her second goal in the back of the net.

To set it up junior Jamie Fletcher sent a pass to Kastor’s feet.

From there Kastor made a nice spin move and the fired a kick with her left foot into left lower corner of the goal.

Having that second goal helped the Jayhawks make sure the win was secure.

“It felt like a lot of pressure came off of us,” Fletcher said. “One goal was easy, but two goals was really hard. It felt great because I had just come back in the game and to contribute to that was really cool.”

Kastor’s two goals give her six on the season, which lead the team.

With the win the Jayhawks now have three regular season games to improve their position as the conference tournament comes closer.

“This could be a turning point for us,” Francis said. “I think we’ve been playing well enough to win games it just hadn’t gone our way. Today it did.”

Soccer Notebook: Jayhawks setting up for West Virginia

The Kansas women’s soccer team will be facing one of its more difficult test of the season when it travels to West Virginia on Friday night.

For a game like this the Jayhawks will have to rely on their defense to hold down the Mountaineers, the highest ranked team in the Big 12,  when they grab chances near the goal.

“They’re dangerous up front so we’ve got to contain them defensively, which I’m pretty confident we can do,” Kansas coach Mark Francis said.

One of the key players for the Jayhawks will be senior defender Madi Hillis. Someone who’s played significant time in all four seasons, Hillis knows her effort will be needed in a big time game.

“It just comes down to being more clinical and finding that extra fire,” Hillis said.

With the offense still scoreless in the three conference games, the team could feel deflated, but  Francis has seen good morale from the team.

“ I don’t think we have to go back to the drawing board, I just think we have to get better in a few small things,” Francis said.

For now the Jayhawks hope that the hard work and effort put in the last week will finally get them over the hump in a road matchup.

“I have no doubt on Friday we’ll come out and play hard and hopefully do a better job in front of goal,” Francis said.

DICKERSON IMPRESSES IN SECOND SEASON

Kansas provides plenty of veteran leadership, but it still relies on sophomore Courtney Dickerson to provide a spark as well.

With two goals and two assists so far, Dickerson found this season easier to adjust than her freshman campaign.

“I feel like I know what to expect now,” she said. “It’s not easier by any means, but it’s easier to prepare mentally.”

Dickerson will hopefully be another one of the players that can contribute to the needed scoring effort.

“I think it’s something that we’re able to overcome,” Dickerson said.  “Scoring we’ll come. Once we get one they’ll keep coming.”