After an intense battle that led to a draw with No. 13 Texas Tech, Kansas soccer will face the Kansas State Wildcats in the Sunflower Showdown at Rock Chalk Park Friday night.
Kansas enters the game No. 23 in the country, with a record of 10-4-1 (2-2-1 Big 12), and has shut out its opponents in back-to-back matches after a 5-2 loss to the No. 15 Oklahoma State Cowboys on Oct. 3.
A large part of that turnaround has to do with the performance of sophomore goalkeeper Sarah Peters. She was named Big 12 Co-Defensive Player of the Week as she led the Big 12 in saves with 10.
“Our defense and Sarah have been phenomenal this year. We won Thursday because of our back line. We had to do a lot of defending, and today was no different,” coach Mark Francis told Kansas Athletics after his team’s draw with Texas Tech Sunday.
The Jayhawks have allowed two goals or less in all 14 games aside from the Oklahoma State match.
Kansas soccer kept its Big 12 regular season title alive after defeating Oklahoma 1-0 in overtime Thursday.
Following the team’s second straight shutout away from Rock Chalk Park, Peters said the performance has helped them with their confidence.
“I think that really boosted our team’s morale, especially our defense. I think we’ve been letting in a few too many goals, and I think getting back-to-back shutouts over two games on the road has been really good for us,” Peters told Kansas Athletics.
Given the timing of Kansas' bounce-back, a rejuvenated defense can assist the team down the stretch and into a possible NCAA tournament run come November.
Before that though, the Jayhawks will have to push past K-State, who is 3-9-2 (1-4 Big 12). Although the season hasn’t gone the way the Wildcats would’ve hoped, they're still going to be a tough challenge for the Kansas defense.
Though the Wildcats have scored as many goals as games played, the squad has attempted 85 shots on goal this season. K-State junior midfielder Brookelynn Entz averages the second most shots on goal in the conference at 2.15 per game.
As for Kansas' attack, it will look for standout senior forward Katie McClure to break her scoring drought in Big 12 play. McClure has yet to score a goal in conference play after she scored nine goals in 10 non-conference games.
She has tallied five shots on goal in five conference games but still hasn’t gotten on the scoreboard.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at Rock Chalk Park.