The Kansas University soccer team showed a little bit of what made it Big 12 Conference co-champion a year ago, with a big 2-1 victory over Texas University on Sunday at the Jayhawk Soccer Complex.
The Longhorns (9-7-1) were atop the conference standings coming into the game, while the Jayhawks were sitting at sixth in conference play.
"This was a huge win, and it feels really good for the whole team," said Kimberly Karfonta, who put away a Caroline Smith pass with about three minutes left for the game-winner. "This was the first time, for us seniors, to beat Texas : so it feels good."
For the second straight game, Kansas was the aggressor on offense, firing 20 shots to UT's 10.
Though KU had the offensive prowess, Jayhawk coach Mark Francis said defense won the game.
"When they tied it up - and I think before that, Julie (Hanley) made a big-time save : that would have tied it up, and then obviously the next one would have put them ahead," Francis said. "So I think that was the turning point in the game, when Julie made that save."
Though Hanley gave up a score, she stopped five shots on goal, three of which came in the second half.
"The work on the back line has just been really solid, so we've just been able to not get scored on as much as the games we have lost previously been scored on three times," Hanley said. "Now, we haven't been scored on nearly as much the past few games, so I think a lot of it is because of the defense is solid back behind."
It was Hanley's eighth start in goal for the Jayhawks since taking over for Colleen Quinn. She improved to 6-1.
"I think with Julie, she's gained more confidence every game that she's played, and I think that she knows we have confidence in her," Francis said. "I think earlier in the year we probably made the mistake of switching the keepers too often, and we didn't stick one of them in there with Colleen and Julie and kind of say, 'You know what, we're going to stick you in there. We think you're the person,' and then give them a little bit of a stretch to get things done."
More consistent play by the offense also has helped Hanley.
"Obviously, (if) you give up a goal, the offense is going to have to come through and get a goal back for you," she said, "which, the past few games, they've been doing really well."
Offense has been the focal point for the Jayhawks lately.
The postseason looms after Friday's home game against Missouri.
"We worked a lot this week on our movement up front, our forwards, making sure that they give us some options when we have the ball coming out of the back or coming out of the midfield," Francis said. "And that's something two weeks ago that we weren't doing very well. So I think we'll continue to address that."
The Jayhawks will head into their senior-night match-up with Missouri in a tie for third in the conference.
"We can't be too confident going into the next game," said Afton Sauer, who scored the first KU goal Sunday. "But we do need to win the next game. It would be huge for us to win it. But this is just the start for us."