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Sophomore forward Kailey Lane chases after the ball against Texas on Sept. 26. 

Column 

Following a 5-2 thrashing at the hands of Oklahoma State last week, Kansas soccer has reached a crossroads in its 2019 campaign. 

Since conference play began, the team has looked unbeatable at times, with incredible attacking play and staunch defending. Other times, however, the Jayhawks have appeared incapable of capitalizing on scoring chances as well as looking completely lost on the defensive end.

The latter is what Kansas soccer fans saw last Thursday as the defense crumbled in the first half under an onslaught from the Cowboys’ attacking forwards. The loss was a telling sign that the team’s mentality must be addressed before entering the heart of its conference schedule.

In order to succeed in a conference as tough as the Big 12, the Jayhawks need to locate some form of consistency on both sides of the field. While the offense has clearly done its part in creating scoring chances, finishing has been a cause for concern in the Jayhawks’ attack.

In their first conference matchup against Texas, Kansas finished with 12 shots, including five in the first 10 minutes of the second half. With this level of production, Kansas needs to be turning its opportunities into goals. In this match, the Jayhawks were unable to convert on any of these chances and gave up the winning goal on Texas’ lone chance of the game.

In terms of defending, Kansas has been even more up-and-down. Most of the time, the unit looks collected and adept with its passing and blocking, but small mistakes have hampered the back line as of late.

Against BYU and Oklahoma State, Jayhawk defenders were often caught out of position or making ill-advised passes in the opponent’s attacking third. Whether it be mishandling the ball or missing passes, the Kansas defenders cannot afford to lose their focus, especially when the attack has also been less than productive.

If the Jayhawks can find a balance between controlled defensive play and aggressive attacking play, they will be in a much better position to succeed come tournament time. 

Kansas will resume its conference schedule against Oklahoma this Thursday in Norman, Oklahoma. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.