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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Short-handed KU soccer drops UTSA

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Kansas University’s women’s soccer team was depleted due to injury and suspension, but the Jayhawks still had the firepower to overcome Texas-San Antonio, 2-1, Friday at the Jayhawk Soccer Complex.

The Jayhawks (3-0) were paced by junior Liana Salazar and freshman Lois Huechan. Salazar and Huechan combined for seven of the Jayhawks’ 15 shots and scored a goal apiece.

Salazar broke a scoreless tie in the 65th minute when she ripped a ball from the upper-left corner of the box over the outstretched arm of UTSA goalkeeper Katherine Tesno. The goal was Salazar’s third of the season, matching her total from 2013.

“Li is a very good player. I think last year … she had been out for a while having had to sit out that one year,” Kansas coach Mark Francis said. “She really had sat for two years, and she hadn’t played competitively. Her country (Colombia) didn’t really have much. There was no World Cups or anything like that going on to play in.”

Kansas continued to increase the pressure following Salazar’s goal, but the Roadrunners did not panic. UTSA scored an equalizer in the 74th minute on a header from Brianna Livecchi that deflected off a hand of back-up goalie Maddie Dobyns into the back of the net.

Dobyns, a red-shirt freshman, started in goal because senior goalie Kaitlyn Stroud and defender Caroline Van Slambrouck were held out of the contest by Francis after violating team rules.

Francis said he was pleased with the composure Dobyns showed throughout the game.

“I think the goal was a little bit of a mental mistake, but other than that, I thought she played very, very well,” Francis said. “She came out on stuff she needed to come out on, punched a couple, handled the ball well on crosses and stuff.”

Dobyns was visibly disappointed after allowing the goal from Livecchi, but fellow freshman Huechan made sure momentum did not swing completely in UTSA’s direction. Forty-two seconds later, Huechan put the Jayhawks back on top with her second goal of the season.

“After them scoring, usually your head will get down, but not this time,” Huechan said. “We had enough time on the clock, so we were just even more determined to win the game and score another goal.”

The goal sealed career win No. 199 for Francis, and Kansas will return at 1 p.m. Sunday to the Jayhawk Soccer Complex to try to give him No. 200, against Wake Forest.

Francis indicated the Jayhawks might be back to full strength against the Demon Deacons. Senior midfielder Jamie Fletcher is expected to make her first appearance of the year after missing the first three games due to injury.

Although Francis did not have much to say about Stroud and Van Slambrouck sitting out, he said they would both suit up Sunday, but was uncertain about how much they would play.

The No. 24-ranked Demon Deacons figure to be the toughest test the Jayhawks have had this season.

“The bad news for us is that they lost tonight against James Madison (Friday). They are going to come in here a bit (upset), but that’s all right,” Francis said. “I told the players it’s a great opportunity for us to play a team from the ACC. It helps our strength of schedule.”

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