The last time Kansas soccer faced off against St. Louis at Rock Chalk Park, there was a muggy heat in the air, causing sweat to quickly build up on the foreheads of the players on the field.
Kansas won that game 3-2, on Sept. 14, but less than two months later when the teams met again in the NCAA tournament first round on Saturday, it was a different story. Firstly, rather than a humid September afternoon, temperatures had dropped into the teens for the first time this winter. Secondly, defenses prevailed in Saturday's game, but the Jayhawks still came out on top 2-1, thanks to a double from junior forward Katie McClure.
In the first meeting between the two teams, St. Louis dropped a 2-0 lead as senior forward Grace Hagan scored a hat trick to lead Kansas to victory. This time around, it took double overtime for the Jayhawks to seperate themselves from the Billikens. But nonetheless, Kansas coach Mark Francis has been impressed with St. Louis' play on both occasions.
“You have to give St. Louis credit,” Francis said. “They’re a very good team. Katie [Shields] has done an unbelievable job with this group. Both times we played them it was just a really tough game. They played really well tonight.”
Saturday's result was the first time St. Louis had lost since the previous time the two teams had played, meaning the Billikens came into the game on a 14-game winning streak.
“We were disappointed in ourselves that first time we came here and lost.” Shields said. “We felt like we made some mistakes. Not to take anything away from KU, we just felt like we didn’t put our best foot forward. We learned those lessons and then did not make mistakes again. And to be honest, [we] didn’t make mistakes tonight, KU just put it away.”
Shields' team learned from the first game, locking down Hagan for most of Saturday's game, but they still didn't account for McClure. The junior forward put Kansas 1-0 in the 19th minute after placing home a shot at the back post off a swinging cross from junior defender Elise Reina.
A goal from St. Louis' Maddie Pokorny tied the game up 15 minutes later, leading to a deadlock up until the 104th minute of the game.
Katie McClure scored her seventh game-winning goal of the season in double overtime on Friday to help Kansas soccer defeat St. Louis 2-1.
Tied at 1-1 in double overtime, sophomore midfielder Ceri Holland whipped in a corner which was met by the head of Hagan. The header, which was one of few chances for Hagan throughout the game, was tipped onto the post by St. Louis goalkeeper Olivia Silverman. But patiently waiting once again was McClure, who was there bundle the ball home for the game-winning goal.
The goal was extra sweet for Holland, who had played all but one minute of the 104 minute game.
“I just have to give credit to my teammates because they help me out a lot,” said Holland, “Especially Kaycie [Young] and Miriam [Melugin] in the second half, they directed everything to me and that’s a massive thing in helping me recover. I wouldn’t be able to play the minutes that I do without my teammates around me."
With the victory, Kansas is set to take on North Carolina in Chapel Hill on Thursday, following the Tar Heels' 4-0 victory over Howard. North Carolina, who Kansas lost to 4-0 in the second round of the NCAA tournament in 2016, is the number 1 seed in the Jayhawks' side of the bracket.