Defense wins championships, and that was proven when St. Louis traveled to Rock Chalk Park to take on the Kansas Jayhawks in the NCAA women's soccer tournament on Friday evening.
After two goals were scored in the first half, neither team was able to score again until junior forward Katie McClure scored her second of the game in crunch time to send Kansas through to the second round.
In the 104th minute — just six minutes remaining in double overtime — McClure bundled home the golden goal after a header from senior forward Grace Hagan was tipped onto the post by St. Louis goalkeeper Olivia Silverman.
The goal condemned St. Louis to its first loss since the last time the two teams met on Sept. 14, a game which Kansas won 3-2 and which propelled St. Louis on a 14 game winning streak.
McClure’s seven game-winning goals leads the Big 12 Conference and puts her in a tie for third in the nation.
Sophomore midfielder Ceri Holland, who took the corner which led to McClure's game-winning goal, was the ever-present architect for Kansas throughout the evening.
“I was just trying to drag the ball across the box, I could see a big space, they left a big gap there and I knew if I could drive it across, one of my teammates could get on the end of it,” Holland said. “I was kind of aiming for Grace because I know she’s going to put a body at it.”
Neither team could maintain possession for extended periods, seemingly every time one team was about to make a play, the opposing defense would shut it down and force a turnover.
Coming into the game, both teams were averaging upwards of 15 shots a game, but neither team was able to reach that mark as Kansas only had 14 while the Billikens had 13.
The driving force for St. Louis however was in the form of senior forward Maddie Pokorny. Pokorny put up six shots in the game with each of them being on target. Her first half goal gave her 13 on the season, tying a school record.
Facing Pokorny was Kansas freshman goalkeeper Sarah Peters, who was once again a brick wall for the Jayhawks. Peters made seven saves during the game, upping her save total to 24 in the last four games. Prior to that, she had made only 30 throughout the entire season.
“She’s confident in herself as well. She knows that she’s good, which is great for us because you need that,” Holland said. “I think she obviously has worked really hard as well. She’s realized those mistakes and learned from them.”
Moving forward, the Jayhawks will play the victor of the North Carolina vs. Howard matchup, which takes place on Saturday at 12 p.m. Depending on that result, Kansas will either host once again or travel to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, to play against the team that defeated the Jayhawks in the NCAA tournament in 2016.