Kansas' women's soccer team physically and emotionally dominated Illinois on Sunday at SuperTarget Field, but one mental mistake with just 14 seconds left cost the Jayhawks the game and their second victory.
The Jayhawks fought back to tie the game in the 78th minute to force the game into sudden death overtime, but Illinois' Christine Sinak scored with 34 seconds remaining to beat KU, 4-3.
"There were three players standing on the back post wide open," KU coach Mark Francis said. "And I was screaming at them (Jayhawks) from the bench, but those are things at this level the players should organize by themselves. That's a huge mental mistake, but like I told the team, you've got to learn from them."
Francis said losing a game this way might be helpful in the long run.
"Right now they're disappointed," he said. "I told them, remember how this feels. When we get back in this situation again, you can't mentally let down."
The Jayhawks took the early lead on Maggie Mason's goal 1:50 into the game off an assist from Gabriela Quiggle.
Mason said she was trying to screen the goalie when the ball appeared.
"All of a sudden the ball was on my foot, and I had a whole lot of time," Mason said.
Illinois tied the game at 33:27 on a goal from Laura Freeman, but less than four minutes later freshman Rachel Gilfillan put the Jayhawks back on top with another goal.
The lead didn't last long though, as Sarah Rowland scored for Illinois less than a minute later to tie the contest.
Illinois struck again early in the second period on a penalty kick from Colleen Joyce that barely escaped the grasp of freshman goalkeeper Megan Miller.
The Jayhawks refused to let Illinois keep the lead for long, and at 78:20, senior Hilla Rantala knocked the ball past Illini keeper Sarah Anderson to even the score, 3-3.
Natalie Hoogveld took a promising shot at the goal with less than five minutes remaining, but it flew left of the post.
"I think we did enough to win the game," Francis said. "And we should have won it before the end of regulation. Hoogs (Hoogveld) probably should have scored there in the end."
The Jayhawks dominated the first half of overtime play, but were unable to put the ball in the net.
Their hard work and domination continued until the last minute of play. Francis said his players were off in "la-la land, and we cannot afford that."
Kansas will meet UNLV on Friday at the San Diego State Invitational before playing host San Diego State on Sunday.
Mason said the team needs to work on a few things before they are solid.
"We're young and have a lot to work on," Mason said. "We need to settle the ball and control it more.
"We need to work toward each other's strengths instead of just kicking the ball really far up field."