KU soccer team loses ground in postseason race with 7-4 loss

Kansas defender Katie Williams recovers as Nebraska forward Morgan Marlborough makes a move during the first half Friday, Oct. 23, 2009 at KU.

Kansas defender Katie Williams recovers as Nebraska forward Morgan Marlborough makes a move during the first half Friday, Oct. 23, 2009 at KU.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Disheartening is how Kansas University soccer coach Mark Francis described his team’s loss to Nebraska on Friday.

Deflating, senior midfielder Monica Dolinsky said.

A confidence-crusher, junior defender Lauren Jackson added.

On a day they could have taken a big step forward in their quest to qualify for the eight-team Big 12 tournament, the Jayhawks couldn’t overcome a three-goal first-half deficit, falling 7-4 to visiting Nebraska and significantly hindering their chances for a postseason berth.

“We definitely needed the three points today,” said Dolinsky, referring to the three points a team receives for a conference victory. “Even (a tie) would have been good.”

Instead, in a game that tied the Big 12 record for most combined points in a match, Kansas suffered its sixth loss in the past nine games to fall to 10-7-1 (2-6 in the Big 12) after starting the season 7-1-1 and jumping as high as 13th in the national poll. Nebraska’s aggressive style — lots of long balls, lots of running — led to seven goals, the most the Jayhawks have given up since an eight-point outing by Nebraska in a 1999 loss.

Perhaps the most disappointing development, however, was the team’s inability to take control of its postseason fate. The top eight teams in the conference qualify for the Big 12 tournament, and entering Friday’s game, the Jayhawks sat in ninth place with what appeared to be —given three straight home games to close the regular season — a good chance to nudge their way into the final playoff spot.

Nebraska offense overpowers Kansas soccer

Despite scoring four goals, the soccer Jayhawks couldn't beat the Cornhuskers. Nebraska recording seven goals in its victory Friday.

Now, even if they win their final two games — against Iowa State on Sunday and Missouri next Friday — a berth in the Big 12 tournament is far from guaranteed.

“It was in our hands last weekend, even going into today,” Francis said. “Now, we just have to do our part, which is win the next two. After that, who knows what happens?”

After falling into a 3-0 hole to start the game, Kansas rebounded to pull within striking distance Friday. Dolinsky scored from 20 yards out on a free kick just before halftime to cut the Cornhuskers’ lead to two, and Caitlin Noble added another goal early in the second half to make the score 3-2.

But Nebraska scored four more goals in the course of 20 minutes — the most impressive of which came on an Anna Caniglia bicycle kick late in the second half, part of her hat trick — to hold off a Kansas comeback attempt and hold on for the victory.

Now there’s not much Kansas can do but prepare for its final two games and pray to the soccer gods that the necessary developments occur over the course of the next week.

“I really hope that this team can keep playing and go into the postseason, because I really feel like the kids deserve it as hard as they’ve worked this year,” Francis said. “That will remain to be seen, though.”

Deflating, senior midfielder Monica Dolinsky said.

A confidence-crusher, junior defender Lauren Jackson added.

On a day they could have taken a big step forward in their quest to qualify for the eight-team Big 12 tournament, the Jayhawks couldn’t overcome a three-goal first-half deficit, falling 7-4 to visiting Nebraska and significantly hindering their chances for a postseason berth.

“We definitely needed the three points today,” said Dolinsky, referring to the three points a team receives for a conference victory. “Even (a tie) would have been good.”

Instead, in a game that tied the Big 12 record for most combined points in a match, Kansas suffered its sixth loss in the past nine games to fall to 10-7-1 (2-6 in the Big 12) after starting the season 7-1-1 and jumping as high as 13th in the national poll. Nebraska’s aggressive style — lots of long balls, lots of running — led to seven goals, the most the Jayhawks have given up since an eight-point outing by Nebraska in a 1999 loss.

Perhaps the most disappointing development, however, was the team’s inability to take control of its postseason fate. The top eight teams in the conference qualify for the Big 12 tournament, and entering Friday’s game, the Jayhawks sat in ninth place with what appeared to be —given three straight home games to close the regular season — a good chance to nudge their way into the final playoff spot.

Now, even if they win their final two games — against Iowa State on Sunday and Missouri next Friday — a berth in the Big 12 tournament is far from guaranteed.

“It was in our hands last weekend, even going into today,” Francis said. “Now, we just have to do our part, which is win the next two. After that, who knows what happens?”

After falling into a 3-0 hole to start the game, Kansas rebounded to pull within striking distance Friday. Dolinsky scored from 20 yards out on a free kick just before halftime to cut the Cornhuskers’ lead to two, and Caitlin Noble added another goal early in the second half to make the score 3-2.

But Nebraska scored four more goals in the course of 20 minutes — the most impressive of which came on an Anna Caniglia bicycle kick late in the second half, part of her hat trick — to hold off a Kansas comeback attempt and hold on for the victory.

Now there’s not much Kansas can do but prepare for its final two games and pray to the soccer gods that the necessary developments occur over the course of the next week.

“I really hope that this team can keep playing and go into the postseason, because I really feel like the kids deserve it as hard as they’ve worked this year,” Francis said. “That will remain to be seen, though.”