LAWRENCE, Kan. – Sophomore Liana Salazar’s penalty kick in the 20th minute turned out to be the difference as Kansas soccer fended off a pesky Nebraska-Omaha squad, 1-0 in exhibition play Sunday afternoon at the Jayhawk Soccer Complex. KU outshot the Mavericks 26-5, including a 9-0 advantage with shots on goal.
The final score was not the best representation of the way the match played out with the Jayhawks dominating in nearly every facet of the match. In the opening half of play, the Jayhawk defense didn’t allow a single UNO shot and dominated the majority of the possession.
With the Jayhawks on the attack in the 20th minute, freshman forward Ashley Pankey found space in the UNO penalty box. The Middletown, N.J., native was then the victim of a hard foul by a Maverick defender, forcing a whistle from the referee and an impending Jayhawk penalty kick. The midfielder, Salazar, was then called upon to take the free kick, which she converted on to put the Jayhawks up 1-0.
Kansas had several more opportunities over the next 30 minutes of the opening half, with the offense forcing seven shots and two on frame.
KU kept up the pressure in the second half, however couldn’t find the back of the net after outshooting Nebraska-Omaha 14-5 over the final 45 minutes. The Mavericks pushed hard for the equalizer in the last 25 minutes but the KU defense again held strong and kept UNO off the board for a 1-0 victory by the full time whistle.
Leaders for the Jayhawks were junior midfielder Jamie Fletcher and sophomore forward Ashley Williams who each tallied four shots, while the freshmen Pankey and Jackie Georgoulis notched three shots each. Junior defender Haley Yearout perhaps had two of the Jayhawks’ best opportunities of the day as both her shots were on frame and required athletic saves by the UNO goalkeeper, Meaghan Clark. The Jayhawks kept Clark busy throughout the match, forcing her to make eight saves, five of which were in the first half.
On the flip side, the Kansas defense was unflappable for the whole 90 minutes, making the Jayhawks’ junior goalkeeper Kaitlyn Stroud’s job easy, forcing her to face only five shots, none forcing her to make a save, in just over 80 minutes of play.
Kansas now has five days to prepare for its first regular-season match of the year when it travels to Fayetteville, Ark., on Aug. 23 to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m., from Razorback field. The Jayhawks will then return to Lawrence for their regular-season home opener versus the Pacific Tigers. KU will hit the pitch for a 12 p.m. start on Sunday, Aug. 25.