Wildcat soccer draws with Kansas in Sunflower Showdown

Sophomore midfielder Shae Turner attempts to get the ball back in K-State's 2-0 loss to KU on March 6, 2021. (Sophie Osborn | Collegian Media Group)

On a cold, rainy day at Rock Chalk Park in Lawrence, the Kansas and Kansas State soccer teams could not get their offense going. Two shots-on-goal for K-State and six shots-on-goal for KU turned into zero total points for the contest. The Jayhawks and the Wildcats settled for a draw.

The game follows a 2-0 loss for the Wildcats against Kansas last weekend.

In the third game against the Jayhawks this season — the first match dating back to Oct. 3, 2020 — K-State was finally able to keep Kansas off the board. Though they were unable to put up any offensive numbers, strong play by freshman goalie Peyton Pearson kept Kansas in check throughout the match, which lasted 110 minutes after regulation and two overtimes.

“[Pearson] is showing confidence and giving our coaching staff a lot more confidence in the goalkeeper position,” head coach Mike Dibbini said in a release from K-State Athletics. “She has garnered two shutouts in two games. That speaks volumes. That is great to have a keeper of that caliber with that ability and confidence to come in and do the big things on the big stage. It is great to have her and help us keep growing this program.”

Pearson successfully batted a header attempt over the bar after a corner kick in the 26th minute, a good opportunity for KU to strike, but instead led to K-State starting its own counterattack. That counterattack by the Wildcats finished with 2020 All-Big 12 First Team member senior midfielder Brookelynn Entz just missing a shot off the right post for K-State in the team’s best look at a goal until late in the contest.

Three almost-goals for K-State in the second overtime nearly sent the Wildcats home with a walk-off win, but all shots fell just short. First, in the 105th minute, Entz barely missed the upper right corner.

In the 107th minute, sophomore Aliyah El-Naggar was stopped by Kansas goalkeeper Sarah Peters after gunning for the bottom right corner. In their last attempt, sophomore forward Kyler Goins put a little too much leg into her shot, sending it over the bar in the 109th minute.

“I wish they would have had the opportunity to get one of those shots to go in,” Dibbini said. “We had some clear chances, but just couldn’t tuck it away. I couldn’t be more proud of our team effort today, offensively and defensively.”

Though it took three games to get there this season, Dibbini said that the Wildcats holding the Jayhawks scoreless was due to a formation change made during the week. Dibbini said he was worried to throw a new formation at the players and have them run it correctly, but once the game settled down, they gained their composure.

“We wanted to minimize their superiority in the middle of the field,” Dibbini said. “We also tried to prevent them from having time on the ball with their defenders. We didn’t want their defense to find a rhythm with their passing from the back like they did last week. We also tried to press them a little more and force them to play closer to their own goal. We knew we would generate our offense through our defense. It worked.”

Next up for the Wildcats is a closed friendly with Kansas City NWSL on Saturday, March 20, at Swope Soccer Village in Overland Park at 11 a.m.