LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Kansas used its second consecutive three-goal performance and a diving Kaitlyn Stroud save on a penalty kick in the waning minutes to win in shutout fashion over SMU, 3-0, on a hot day at the Jayhawk Soccer Complex Sunday afternoon. Eli Mayr scored the eventual game-winner nearly 31 minutes into the contest and Kansas added a pair of scores late over the final 20 minutes, one from Ali Kimura and another from Liana Salazar, while improving to 2-0 in 2014.
“When you open the season with two quick wins it gives you a lot of confidence,” said head coach Mark Francis. “Scoring six goals in two games is great because that type of output will give our attacking players a ton of confidence and will really help our team as we move forward.”
With temperatures reaching triple digits on the field over the course of the match, the KU offense also continued to sizzle, putting in three goals for the second-straight match. That wasn’t the case early in the game as KU was unable to tally its first shot until the 23rd minute. The Jayhawks picked up the pace after that with Mayr opening the scoring in the 31st minute.
Sophomore Tayler Estrada sent in an arching cross to the far post from the right side of the Jayhawks’ attacking third. The on-point pass found the foot of Mayr who easily sent the pass to the back of the net with one touch. Both the goal and the assist were firsts in Mayr’s and Estrada’s young KU careers.
The teams played level over the final 15 minutes prior to halftime, however the Jayhawks took a 6-4 shot advantage with them into the lockerroom. KU also managed to tally five corner kicks to SMU’s one over the opening 45 minutes.
The second half started with a nervous moment for KU when the Mustangs nearly tied up the game in the 53rd minute. SMU’s Shelby Redman was the recipient of a poor Jayhawk clearance and found herself one-on-one with the KU keeper, Stroud. Redman sent in a hard strike that was headed for the inside right corner of the Jayhawk goal but the senior keeper was there for her third save of the day, keeping her clean sheet intact and the Jayhawks ahead by a goal.
Twenty minutes later, the senior, Kimura, gave KU some breathing room when she put in her first goal of the season. The Overland Park, Kansas native picked up a loose ball at the top of the SMU 18-yard box, evaded a defender and sent in a right-footed strike the slipped past the SMU goalkeeper and just inside the top-right corner of the frame.
Even with a victory well in hand, Kansas still was forced to deal with a stubborn SMU team the refused to go away. With five minutes remaining, the Mustangs’ Vanessa Valadez was taken down inside the KU box and awarded her team a penalty kick. Senior Olivia Elliot took the free shot, however Stroud was adamant on keeping the shutout alive and came up with perhaps the most impressive of her five saves on the day with a diving stop that all but secured the Jayhawk victory.
As the final seconds ticked away Salazar found an opening in the SMU defense and took a bee-line from the right corner of the penalty box to the near post, almost unimpeded. The junior sent in her second goal of the season and 10th of her career at point-blank range just inside the left post to give KU its third and final score of the game.
The final whistle sounded just 13 seconds later, signaling another KU victory and a 2-0 start to the 2014 campaign.
Kansas outshot the Mustangs 15-9 with a 9-5 advantage in the second half. Kimura led the way with three shots while junior Ashley Williams was tops on the team with two shots on frame.
Stroud earned her first shutout of the year and the sixth of her career on the shoulders of five saves. She has now been between the posts for 20 victories at KU, which makes her just the fourth KU keeper to reach 20 wins.
KU will look to keep the winning momentum going as it will welcome the UT-San Antonio Roadrunners to Lawrence on Friday, Aug. 29. The location of the match is still to be determined as the playing surface at Rock Chalk Park will be reevaluated by school officials over the coming week. Kickoff against UTSA is tentatively set for 7 p.m. Keep an eye out for updates on the location and time of the match by logging on to KUAthletics.com later in the week.