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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Freshmen spark Kansas soccer

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— Kansas University freshmen Grace Hagan and Parker Roberts each shot in the first goals of their collegiate careers to lift the Jayhawks to a 2-1 soccer victory over SMU on Friday at Westcott Field.

Kansas moved to 1-1-1 and picked up its fourth-straight win in Texas, while SMU dropped to 0-2-1.

“I didn’t think we played great today, to be honest,” KU coach Mark Francis said. “I felt like we were pretty lethargic in the first half. We didn’t look like we were in gear, we were slow, we didn’t move off the ball very well. But the second half was better.”

After going more than 200 minutes without a goal to start the season, the Jayhawks wasted little time to get the ball into the back of the net Friday.

Roberts sent in a low, strong pass across the face of SMU’s goal, headed for the feet of senior Ashley Williams. Williams bluffed a touch and let the ball roll to a wide-open Hagan, who shot in the first goal to give KU a 1-0 lead less than 12 minutes into the match.

In the 68th minute, Williams gained possession near midfield and found herself with ample space to operate downfield. The senior forward spotted Roberts making a run into the SMU box and played a near-perfect pass to her freshman teammate. Roberts beat her defender, made one touch and made it a 2-0 KU lead with just over 20 minutes to play.

With SMU sending numbers forward in the final 10 minutes, the Kansas defense was forced to deflect attack after attack from the Mustangs, but it backfired in the 83rd minute when sophomore Kayla Morrison was called for a hand ball inside the SMU box, resulting in a Mustang penalty kick. SMU’s Vanessa Valadez converted on the penalty try and cut the KU lead in half, 2-1, still with more than six minutes to play.

Just 10 seconds remained when SMU was awarded a corner kick, which it turned into a prime scoring opportunity. The corner service found the foot of SMU’s Claire Oates, who was standing no more than six yards from the mouth of the Jayhawk goal. Oates tried to flick in a quick goal toward the far post, however junior defender Morgan Williams was there to make the stop.

KU will meet North Texas at 1 p.m. Sunday in Denton, Texas.

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