LAWRENCE, Kan. – A goal and assist by sophomore Liana Salazar plus a seven save outing by junior goalkeeper Kaitlyn Stroud helped the Kansas Jayhawks post a 2-0 shutout over the Illinois State Redbirds Sunday afternoon in Lawrence.
The win moved the Jayhawks to 5-4-1 with one non-conference game to go before league play begins in two weeks. The Redbirds fell to 5-6-0 in their 2013 campaign.
“Today was definitely the best we’ve played all year,” said head coach Mark Francis. “Stroud came up big with a few nice saves in the second half and Liana played her best game of the season. I really liked how we competed and grinded out the win today and think that will give us something to aim for the rest of the season.”
For the second time this season Salazar got on the score sheet and gave the Jayhawks a 1-0 lead in the 31st minute of play. Senior Caroline Kastor was able to out run a defender to a ball played down the right side and into Kansas’ attacking third of the field. Kastor moved toward the corner and crossed the ball in toward the top of the 18-yard box. Fellow senior Ali Kimura managed to get just enough of a foot on it to redirect to a wide-open Salazar how rocketed in a right-footed strike past the ISU keeper and into the back of the net.
The goal gave the Jayhawks the upper hand but Illinois State continued to fight and keep KU’s defenders busy by putting in 11 shots in the first half, compared to just seven from the Jayhawks in the opening period.
In the 65th minute KU was finally able to get in behind the Redbird defense when Salazar pulled a long ball forward to sophomore Ashley Williams who had only the ISU keeper standing between her and the 10th goal of her career. Williams took a couple short touches to draw in Newsom before kicking out of the junior’s reach and in through the left side of the frame. The goal was the second of the season for Williams and gave KU a commanding 2-0 lead with less than a third of the match remaining.
Williams’ score earned Salazar her second assist of the year and gave the Columbian the first 3-point outing of her young Kansas career.
While the KU offense came up with two goals for the second-consecutive game, it was the Jayhawk defense that made the key plays down the final moments of the match to help Kansas tack on its fifth win of the year. With the Illinois State strikers making frantic attempts to send the ball downfield and create scoring opportunities, the Kansas defenders absorbed nearly all of the ISU attacks over the final 20 minutes. The few shots the Redbirds were able to get off, Stroud was able to swat away each, amassing all four of her second-half saves within the final 15 minutes of action.
Perhaps her biggest save of the day came with just eight minutes remaining and Illinois State frantically attempting to get back in the match. Redbird freshman Hannah Leinert lined up what appeared to be a sure ISU goal from the left side of the KU penalty box. Stroud was there though as Leinert’s strike slammed off the junior’s 5-foot-11 frame for her seventh and final save of the match. The full time whistle sounded minutes later with the Redbirds unable to amass anymore threatening attacks.
In addition to her team-high third assist of the season, Kastor added a team-high five shots Sunday and also led her squad with three of the team’s seven shots on frame. Williams tallied four shots, while Jamie Fletcher and Salazar both notched three shots on the day.
The Kansas defense posted its third shutout of the season and aided the goalkeeper Stroud with a season-high two team saves to bring Kansas’ save total to nine on the day, also a season-high.
The Kansas offense was outshot for just the third time this year as ISU managed to send 23 shots in, tied for the most by a KU opponent this year. Kansas also saw one of the more physical matches of the season with Jayhawks getting whistled for a season-high 18 fouls, compared to eight for Illinois State. The Jayhawks were also booked for four yellow cards in the match, the most by a Kansas team in four seasons.
The Jayhawks will conclude its non-conference slate when they travel to Santa Clara, Calif., for a Sept. 27 matchup with the Santa Clara Broncos. Kickoff from Buck Shaw Stadium is slated for 9 p.m. (CT).