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Junior forward Mandi Duggan dribbles the ball against West Virginia. Kansas tied the Mountaineers 1-1 Thursday, Oct. 24. 

Column

Following a statement Big 12 Championship title run, Kansas soccer earned its place Monday afternoon as a No. 3 seed in the 2019 NCAA Women’s Soccer Tournament. The Jayhawks also earned a chance to host their first-round matchup against Iowa Saturday, Nov. 16, at Rock Chalk Park. 

To earn their first ever conference championship, the Jayhawks leaned heavily on their staunch defending and goalkeeping to supplement their offensive attack. After allowing just one goal in three Big 12 Tournament games, sophomore goalkeeper Sarah Peters was named Big 12 Co-Defensive Player of the Week.

Peters made 15 total saves throughout the tournament, including a nine-save effort in Kansas’ double-overtime win over Oklahoma State in the semifinal round. The Missouri native has solidified herself as one of Kansas’ most valuable players over the past months, so a continued run of good form would set up the Jayhawks for even further success come tournament time.

The Jayhawks’ experience on both sides of the ball is what has carried them through their tightly-contested matches in conference play. Senior forward Katie McClure has been a mainstay on the attacking end all season long, notching a team-high 14 goals and eight assists. And her efforts have been complemented by strong offensive performances from players like juniors forward Mandi Duggan and midfielder Ceri Holland.

Duggan has scored timely close-range goals in big games, including her championship-clinching goal against TCU Sunday afternoon. Additionally, Holland has anchored the midfield with her ability to pass and open up chances for her teammates, as evidenced by her six assists on the season.

The prior experience of these players has helped tremendously in propelling the Jayhawks to their three-seed status and will undoubtedly serve the team well once the NCAA tournament rolls around. Kansas’ first-round match against Iowa is set to kick off 5 p.m. Saturday.