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Archive for Friday, October 28, 2005

Kansas soccer still in line for share of Big 12 title

October 28, 2005

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At first glance it would appear Kansas University has no chance to defend its Big 12 Conference regular-season soccer championship.

With only one game remaining, the Jayhawks are tied for fourth place, yet the race is so tight that nothing will be decided until after this weekend.

"We can still win it," KU coach Mark Francis said.

In order for that to happen, however, the Jayhawks will have to defeat Missouri in today's regular-season finale.

Game time will be 3 p.m. at the Jayhawk Soccer Complex.

If KU does win today, the Jayhawks would finish with a 6-3-1 league record and could tie for first place with as many as four other teams, depending on the outcome of today's other conference games and of Sunday's Nebraska-Texas Tech contest.

"But if we lose," Francis said, "we can finish seventh."

If five schools do compile 6-3-1 records, the determination of seedings for next week's Big 12 tournament in San Antonio, Texas, would be a nightmare of head-to-head comparisons, goals against and moon spots.

For the last month or so, KU has been one of the league's hottest teams. After dropping a 3-1 decision at Iowa State and beginning league play with an 0-2-1 record, the Jayhawks have won five of their last six while outscoring foes, 15-4.

No opponent has managed more than one goal against the Jayhawks during that hot streak which roughly coincides with Julie Hanley, a freshman from Indianapolis, taking over in goal.

"That Iowa State game was a bit of a wake-up call for us," Francis said. "Since then, the biggest difference has been defensively. And (Hanley) has definitely been a factor."

Five seniors -- Nicole Braman, Erin Ferguson, Kimberly Karfonta, Jessica Smith and Caroline Smith -- will be recognized prior to kickoff.

Caroline Smith, as she has for the last four years, leads the Jayhawks in goals and assists with seven each. Smith needs one more goal to bring her career total to 50.

Jessica Smith is the Jayhawks' third-leading scorer with four goals and two assists. Karfonta has three goals and three assists.

Missouri, 3-4-2 in the league, has dropped three straight to Kansas, including a second-round loss in the 2003 NCAA Tournament.

"Our team chemistry has been good lately," Francis said, "and I think they want to win this one for the seniors."

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