LAWRENCE, Kan. (KU Athletics) Three minutes into double overtime, Kansas junior Katie McClure kicked the Jayhawks past Saint Louis and into the second round of the NCAA Tournament in a thrilling finish Friday night at Rock Chalk Park. McClure's golden goal in the 104th minute gave her team a 2-1 win over the Billikens and booked Kansas its second trip to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in three seasons.
With the double-overtime win, KU improved to 12-5-3 on the season, while Saint Louis ended its 2018 campaign with an 18-4-1 record. The Jayhawks move on to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, to be played Friday, Nov. 16 at a campus location and time to be determined against the winner of Saturday's match between Howard and North Carolina.
On a cold and blustery night in Lawrence, the two squads on the pitch were not deterred by the adverse conditions as both sides flew up and down the field during the opening 45 minutes of action, treating the 439 in attendance at Rock Chalk Park to an entertaining half.
Kansas broke open the scoring just under 19 minutes into the opening frame when Elise Reina played a cross toward the far post of the SLU goal. That is where McClure beat her defender and redirected the ball into the back of the net to put the Jayhawks on top, 1-0.
The Billikens, who hadn't suffered a loss since the two team's last meeting on Sept. 14, weren't about to lay down without a fight however. Fifteen minutes after Kansas opened the scoring, SLU leading scorer Maddie Pokorny got in behind the Jayhawk defense and slotted home her 13th goal of the season. The 1-1 score line is where the match would remain as the two teams headed to the halftime locker rooms.
It became a physical battle in the second half as the two teams combined for 12 fouls over the final 45 minutes of action. Both teams had opportunities to send in the go-ahead goal, but were unable to break through. The Jayhawks ended regulation trailing the shot count 11-12. With the score still tied at 1-1 after 90 minutes, the match headed to extra time, the ninth for Kansas this season, already adding to its single-season program record.
After a hard-fought 13 minutes of overtime, Kansas was finally able to break the SLU defense. Ceri Holland played a free kick from just outside the SLU penalty area to senior Grace Hagan, who met the service in the heart of the 18-yard box and headed the ball toward the left post. That is where McClure got her foot on it and sent it across the line to give KU the win and a spot in next week's second round.
McClure's goal, her 10th of the 2018 season, moved her up into a tie for eighth place in the Kansas single-season record books with Hilla Rantala (2001).
Head Coach Mark Francis
"Both times we played them (Saint Louis) it was a really tough game. They made it difficult for us. I am proud of this group. The first half we really struggled, and I credit that to Saint Louis. We played a lot better in the overtime periods. We had a couple really good chances and I thought it was just a matter of time."
On winning another overtime game in the NCAA Tournament:
"Well it's really tough when you get in the tournament. We lost one overtime goal and we played nine overtime games and we have had success a lot, so we know how to play in these types of games. They are just very resilient."
On how big McClure scoring 10 goals this season has been for the team:
A by Francis: "Katie obviously has a lot of ability and we saw that when we recruited her. She has unbelievable work ethic and she picks up on everything we try and get her to do."
Junior forward Katie McClure
On what she saw on the field during the game-winning goal:
"I knew Ceri (Holland) was going to take it, but I had an idea she was going to hit it. She crossed it to Grace (Hagan) and I was trying to be there for a follow up and I happened to be there at the right time."
On how the team works together to set up for a goal like that:
"(It's) Team chemistry. We have had it ever since the summer since we have been here. Like Coach (Francis) said, resilience is a big motto for our team and it really sticks out for us. It shows who we actually are."
With Friday night's win, Kansas now leads the all-time series, 4-1-1, over Saint Louis. The Jayhawks won a matchup between the two squads earlier this season, defeating the Billikens 3-2 on Sept. 14 behind a hat trick by senior Grace Hagan.
The Jayhawks made their eighth NCAA Tournament appearance on Friday night, and improved their record to 6-7-0 overall in matches played in the national postseason tournament.
With the temperature at 22F, Friday night's match marked the coldest for a Kansas soccer game since 2014, when the Jayhawks hosted Missouri Tigers in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Including Friday night's NCAA Tournament match, the Jayhawks went 9-2-0 at Rock Chalk Park this season. The nine home victories tie for second-most by a KU team in a season in program history (also accomplished in 2012 and 2005). The most home wins in a season is 10, achieved by the 2014 Kansas squad.
After 45 minutes of play, Kansas and Saint Louis were tied with one goal apiece, the ninth such occurrence of being tied with its opponent at half for KU in 2018. With the win, the Jayhawks' record when tied at halftime moved to 7-2-2. When scoring first in a 2018 match, KU has now compiled a 9-2-1 record.
Junior defender Addisyn Merrick was issued her second yellow card of the season at the 33:40 mark of the second half, tying her with Ceri Holland and Madison Meador for the most cards accumulated in 2018.
By going into extra time Friday evening at Rock Chalk Park, Kansas played in its ninth overtime match of the 2018 season, another new program record. Kansas has picked up five victories in those nine extra-time matches, which is also a school record. KU is now 5-1-3 in overtime this season. Of KU's nine total OT matches played this season, three have been decided in the extra first 10 minutes, while six have now gone into 2OTs.
Saint Louis' Maddie Pokorny's goal in the 34th minute snapped the Jayhawks' streak of 253 minutes without an opponent scoring.
Junior forward Katie McClure scored the 11th game-winning goal of her career and her fourth golden goal. Her 11 career game-winning goals tie her for second-most in a Jayhawk career with Emily Cressy (2008-10).
McClure's seven game-winners in 2018 move her into a tie for first place with Caroline Smith (2003) for the most game-winning goals in a season.
Tonight's game marked senior Grace Hagan's 79th start, which tied for the 10th-most starts in a Jayhawk career along with Caroline Smith (2002-05).
Hagan also recorded her 16th-career assist, which ties for ninth in Kansas history.
With her lone assist this evening, Hagan now has accumulated 66 total career points, which moves her into a tie for sixth place in the Kansas record books with Caroline Kastor (2010-13; 26 goals, 14 assists) for career points scored. Hagan's numbers from 2015-present include 25 goals and 16 assists.
Freshman goalkeeper Sarah Peters played 103 minutes, upping her career total 1,919 minutes, which moves her into fourth place for the most minutes played by a keeper in Kansas history.
Kansas will play the winner of the Howard-North Carolina match (who face off Saturday in Chapel Hill) on Friday, Nov. 16 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The match will be hosted by the highest-seeded advancing team between the two schools. If the Jayhawks win their second NCAA Tournament match a week from tonight, they will then play in the third-round game on Sunday, Nov. 18.