No. 21 Kansas soccer, fueled by a 55th-minute goal from junior forward Mandi Duggan, took home its first-ever Big 12 Championship title with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over TCU Sunday afternoon.
While Duggan’s strike made the difference in the match, the Kansas defense played a massive role in securing the program’s first conference title. Defenders senior Addisyn Merrick and junior Isabella Cavalcante each put in standout performances on the back line and were each able to close down TCU’s attackers in key moments during the match.
The first half was a mostly even affair as each team finished with five shots in the first 45 minutes of play. Kansas had the only shot on goal in a half that was dictated by the two defensive units on the field. TCU was able to earn four corner kicks in the half, but the Jayhawks’ defense stifled any chances the Horned Frogs might have had at an opening goal.
The Jayhawks’ defensive prowess was rewarded in the 55th minute when junior midfielder Ceri Holland ran down the right side and dialed up a pinpoint cross for Duggan, who had no trouble firing the ball into the net. Following the goal, the Horned Frogs finally found some rhythm in their attack and kept the Jayhawks on their heels for the remainder of the game. TCU had a whopping 13 shots in the second half, including six in the final five minutes of the match.
Sophomore goalkeeper Sarah Peters once again proved herself to be one of the Big 12's best shot-stoppers with two second-half saves to keep TCU at bay and preserve the Kansas lead. Peters and the Kansas defense survived the aforementioned six-shot onslaught in the last five minutes by using quick instincts while also avoiding any fouls inside the penalty area.
Sunday’s match was a trademark defensive performance for a Kansas team that had steadily improved throughout the season on the defensive side of the ball.