San Antonio Despite containing Colorado scoring sensation and Big 12 leader Nikki Marshall and holding the Buffaloes to a single score while Kansas forward Jessica Bush notched her team-leading seventh goal, the Jayhawks fell to the Buffaloes, 5-3 in penalty kicks, Wednesday in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament.
"I thought we played well," Kansas coach Mark Francis said. "We created some good chances. We just didn't finish them, and unfortunately, in this game, you've got to do that."
Fifth-seeded Colorado (11-5-3) advanced to Friday's semifinals and will take on Texas A&M;, the tournament's top seed. The Aggies shut out eighth-seeded Baylor, 3-0, in Wednesday's opener.
"I'm hoping that neither team is hurt by this, because it's a tie," Colorado coach Bill Hempen said. "It's not a loss for them, and it's not a win for us. That's an outstanding team over there. They have an outstanding coach, and I knew that it was going to be this way. If we didn't play as hard as we did, we would've lost today. Kansas is awesome, and our kids had to match their intensity, and they did just enough to advance."
The Jayhawks came out flat in the first half, and the Buffaloes used that to their advantage, keeping the KU defense on its heels and making goalkeeper Julie Hanley miserable.
In the 18th minute, Colorado midfielder Katie Griffin exploited a misclear by Kansas defender Nikki Alvarez, stole the ball, and dished it off to midfielder Nikki Keller, who was making a run at the top of the 18-yard box. Keller dribbled into the box, stepped around Hanley, who had come out to cut off Keller's angle, and slotted the ball into the lower left corner of the net.
The goal seemed to serve as a wake-up call for the sluggish Jayhawks. Four minutes later, Bush intercepted a misclear of her own, but her close-range shot sailed over the crossbar.
She scored the equalizer in the 37th minute.
Senior forward Holly Gault set Bush up with a through ball that split a pair of Colorado defenders. Bush took the ball, shook off two defenders, dribbled around onrushing CU goalkeeper Kirstin Radlinski, and buried her shot far-post.
"We were pretty close together, and the ball she put through was amazing," Bush said. "It's funny - we worked on one-v-one situations with the keeper this week in practice, so that was probably a smart move on our coach's part."
The Jayhawks played more aggressively in the second half, creating an almost immediate rhythm, and kept the Buffaloes in their own defensive third of the field for much of the half.
Though they had several chances to take the lead, the Jayhawks were unable to find the back of the net, and the score remained a 1-1 deadlock through the remainder of regulation as well as the two subsequent 10-minute periods of sudden death overtime. In the ensuing shootout, Colorado converted all five of its penalty kicks and Radlinski blocked Emily Strinden's shot for the victory.
"We felt like we had Colorado on their heels after the first half, and we felt like if we kept working hard, we could get another one in the net," KU's Shannon McCabe said. "Unfortunately, we didn't, and that's just the nature of the game you can work as hard as possible and not score a goal. It's really disappointing."