Today's Kansas University soccer game will be special for seven Jayhawk seniors, but a victory would make KU's regular-season home finale spectacular.
If No. 7 Kansas (15-3-0 overall, 7-2 Big 12 Conference) can knock off Iowa State (7-10-0, 4-5) at 3 p.m. at Jayhawk Soccer Complex, KU would secure a part of its first-ever conference championship. The Jayhawks also would become the second KU women's team to win or share a Big 12 regular-season championship since the league started in 1996-97.
Marian Washington's '96-97 basketball squad won the league title outright.
"It's going to be an emotional game, especially for the seven of us," said KU senior goalkeeper Meghan Miller, who leads the Big 12 with a 0.33 goals-against average and has 11 shutouts this season. "But once it starts we have to focus on the task at hand, because it's a pretty special one in that we can still win the Big 12 title."
Kansas -- which with a win would tie Texas A&M for the title -- could have won the league outright after beating the Aggies on Friday, but the Jayhawks fell, 1-0, in double overtime Sunday to Texas.
"If there was any disappointment, it didn't last long," KU coach Mark Francis said. "You can ask anyone in this conference that if you come off that road trip with a split, then it's a good weekend."
In addition to the league title and a happy sendoff for seniors Monica Brothers, Amy Geha, Rachel Gilfillan, Stacy Leeper, Miller, Gabriela Quiggle and Lauren Williams, a win tonight would help KU's chances of playing host to first- and second-round games in the NCAA tournament.
But Francis is quick to warn that Iowa State is no pushover. The Cyclones are coming off back-to-back one-goal losses to Texas and Texas A&M.
"They're much improved over last year, they haven't let in very many goals," Francis said of the Cyclones, who are led by goalie Jo Haig and her 1.10 goals-against average. "They're very tight defensively, and it's hard to score on them."
Even with all the emotions of Senior Day, Gilfillan said it wouldn't be hard to come out refocused, "because so much depends on this one game."
"When I think back on our career here I can't believe it went so fast, it's kind of crazy that this could be our last home game," Gilfillan said. "But we can't think about those kind of memories until we finish our business on the field."