In a rematch of a regular season battle, Kansas soccer will host the St. Louis Billikens in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
In the last match, St. Louis took an early 2-0 lead in the first half, but a hat trick from senior forward Grace Hagan would help the then-No. 18 Jayhawks comeback to defeat St. Louis 3-2. Now with higher stakes and a chance to make a run at a national title, each team will be playing for much more than a simple victory.
Kansas and St. Louis will meet for the sixth time, with the Jayhawks leading the all-time series 3-1-1, however Kansas is 3-0-0 when playing the Billikens in Rock Chalk Park. On the season, the Jayhawks only lost two games on their home turf, but in each of those losses, Kansas statistically outplayed the opposing team.
In its last two games, Kansas defeated the then-No. 13 West Virginia Mountaineers, who won the Big 12 Tournament and tied the then-No. 18 Texas Longhorns, although the Jayhawks fell in that game on penalties. As for the Billikens, since losing to the Jayhawks, St. Louis ripped off 14 straight victories and won the Atlantic-10 conference title and tournament title.
Kansas will look to use its intense defense to carry itself to a victory. On the regular season, the Jayhawks shut out nine opponents, including the tough offenses of Pepperdine, Texas, West Virginia and Butler.
Kansas will host St. Louis in the first round of the NCAA tournament at Rock Chalk Park on Friday, Nov. 9. Match time is set for 7 p.m.
St. Louis will look to do the exact opposite and instead use its offense to drive the team. The Billikens averaged 19.6 shots per game on the season, putting 49.7 percent of them on target. St. Louis also averaged 2.32 goals per game, exactly one more goal than Kansas averaged on the year.
Statistically, St. Louis is arguably better than the Jayhawks, having allowed fewer goals and boasting a higher save percentage. However, the Kansas offense of Hagan and junior forward Katie McClure could be too much for the Billikens as Hagan was a first team All-Big 12 and McClure was a second team All-Big 12. The duo also combined for 15 of the Jayhawks' 25 goals on the season.
The second matchup between the two teams will likely resemble the first, which saw a combined total of 18 shots. Despite five goals being scored, the first matchup was rather defensive, but this time around the Jayhawks cannot rely on one player to carry them to victory. Kansas needs a victory to bounce back after losing in the first round of the Big 12 tournament, but the Billikens seem to keep winning.
Either way, the stakes will be high on Friday at 7 P.M. when St. Louis visits the Jayhawks at Rock Chalk Park. The victor will take on the winner of the North Carolina versus Howard game in the second round.