Soccer vs FAU

Freshman defender Ellie Prybylski keeps the ball from going out of bounds against Florida Atlantic University. The Jayhawks defeated the Owls 1-0 Sunday, Sept. 1.

Column

Kansas soccer improved to 7-1 on the season and picked up a third consecutive win in its 2-0 victory over Western Michigan on Sunday afternoon.

The Kansas defense smothered the Broncos’ attackers by allowing just five shots on the day, with just one needing to be saved by sophomore goalkeeper Sarah Peters. 

Defenders senior Addisyn Merrick and sophomore Kaela Hansen continued their impressive recent stretch of play with standout performances. The pair played all 90 minutes of Sunday’s match, with Peters being the only other Jayhawk to never be subbed off throughout the match. Neither player allowed any kind of space to be created in the attacking third for Western Michigan, and they each kept the Broncos from getting a single shot off until the second half. 

The brand of defensive tenacity that players like Merrick and Hansen bring to this team plays a huge role in why the Jayhawks have remained one of the top teams in the country to begin this season. While much praise has deservedly been given to senior forward Katie McClure and the formidable Kansas attack, it cannot be overstated how crucial both the defense and Peters have been toward the team’s fast start.

The veteran presence of upperclassmen like Merrick and senior defender Madison Meador combined with the talent of younger players like Hansen and freshman defender Ellie Prybylski make this defense one of the more complete units in the entire country. 

While much emphasis has been placed on the attacking side of this year’s Kansas team, the defense is an area in which the team can unlock its full potential. When the defense can play as a cohesive unit, it becomes virtually unstoppable, especially with the confidence and consistency Peters has played with thus far.

Through its first eight matches, the defense has conceded just three goals with five shutout wins in that span.

Kansas will look to continue its defensive dominance against No. 7 BYU this Thursday at Rock Chalk Park. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.