LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Ali Kimura passed up an opportunity for a hat trick in a one-on-one situation in the final minute, opting to let Liana Salazar join her with a pair of goals in the match as Kansas upset No. 24 Wake Forest, 4-1, at the Jayhawk Soccer Complex Sunday afternoon, while also helping head coach Mark Francis reach win No. 200 for his career. KU’s 4-0 start to the year is its best since 2009.
“Today was one of the best games we’ve played around here in a long time,” said the Francis after the milestone victory. “The fight in these kids is unbelievable. We came out in the second half, smelled the blood in the water and scored those two quick goals. That third one really took the steam out of (Wake Forest) and I think made it tough for them to get anything going for the rest of the game. We’re playing well right now but looking ahead I think we’re going to win a lot more games because of the fight we showed today. That’s what I’m most excited about.”
For the fourth-straight game, the Jayhawks put in the game’s opening goal. After a Wake turnover, the Jayhawk midfielders quickly advanced the ball forward as freshman Eli Mayr hit Kimura at the end of a run into the Demon Deacon box. Kimura had only the keeper, Lindsay Preston, to beat and flicked in a right-footed shot that evaded the diving Demon Deacon for her second goal of the year.
KU took the 1-0 lead into the half as well as a 7-3 shot advantage.
If the visitors had any thoughts of getting back into the contest, the Jayhawks quickly squashed them early on in the second frame.
Just over two minutes into the second half, Mayr dispossessed a defender in the Wake 18-yard box and was subsequently fouled as she faced an unimpeded shot on the Demon Deacon’s frame. The referee immediately pointed to the penalty spot, which signaled the Jayhawks’ first penalty attempt of the young season. Salazar lined up the try moments later and converted, marking her second successful PK goal of her career and fourth goal of the season.
Less than 30 seconds later Kimura entered the scoring column for the second time. Sophomore Aurélie Gagnet sent in a strong cross from the right side that made it all the way to the far post and to the right foot of Kimura. The Overland, Park, Kansas native tapped in the on-point pass with her right foot and pushed the Jayhawks’ lead to 3-0. The goal marked the first multi-goal performance of Kimura’s career at Kansas and tallied the Jayhawks’ third three-goal outing the season.
Wake Forest managed to get one back 34 minutes later after senior Riley Ridgik shot in a free kick from 25 yards out that dove just out of the reach of the Jayhawk keeper, Kaitlyn Stroud.
Several late, frantic attempts by the Demon Deacons yielded no results but did produce a Jayhawk counter attack. In the final minute of play, Kimura ran down a long pass and beat the only defender between her and the Wake keeper. The senior, shrugged off a chance at the hat trick and unselfishly laid it off to Salazar. The junior midfielder used two touches to beat the Demon Deacon goalkeeper and knocked home her second goal of the afternoon.
Salazar’s fifth goal of the year is the most among Big 12 players and marked the most by a Jayhawk through the team’s first four games since Caroline Smith started 2003 with eight goals in her first five matches.
Kimura’s two goal, one assist performance is the first by a Jayhawk since junior Ashley Williams did it as a freshman two years to the day in a 3-0 win over Creighton.
Seconds after KU’s fourth goal of the day, the final whistle sounded with Francis picking up his 200th-career coaching victory. Francis has won 167 games in 15-plus season as the head man in Lawrence, after picking up 33 wins in three seasons as the coach at South Alabama from 1996-98. Francis is the second-winningest coach among the nine active Big 12 coaches.
Salazar led all players with a season-high five shots on the day. Stroud earned her third win of the year between the posts for the Jayhawks with the help of four saves.
The Jayhawks will now take their unblemished record on the road to take on former Big 12-foe Colorado on Friday, Sept. 5. Kickoff from Boulder is slated for 5:30 p.m. (CT). Two days later Kansas will head to Denver for a Sunday, Sept. 7 date with Denver. The Jayhawks and Pioneers will hit the pitch for a 1 p.m. (CT) start.