McClure’s on target

Senior striker sets tone with nifty hat trick in opener

Katie McClure, of Wichita, last year led the Big 12 with 11 goals; this year she has seven in six games.
McClure, of Wichita, last year led the Big 12 with 11 goals; this year she has seven in six games.

The second two goals of Katie McClure’s opening-match hat trick in a 4-0 victory over Nebraska Aug. 23 at Rock Chalk Park were pure scoring brilliance, driving around defenders to create space and pop lofted shots over the final line of defense.

But coach Mark Francis, now in his 21st season, chose to focus on the first. It might have been a bit more mundane—McClure, a senior forward, got free deep on the left side and, after successfully dodging the goalkeeper, had a simple shot—yet Francis saw it as emblematic of a different striker

“There’s been opportunities she’s had in past years,” Francis said afterward, “where she would have hit that at the keeper, so she’s matured as a finisher. She finished that; she didn’t just shoot it. If she’s going to continue to be as composed as that, she’s going to be tough to deal with.

After being named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week and the United Soccer Coaches’ National Player of the Week, McClure did, indeed, prove to be tough to deal with, carrying six goals and 14 points into the ’Hawks’ Sept. 8 match at Purdue.

Katie McClure

Coming off their first loss of the season, 1-0 to DePaul, KU scored twice in the second half for a 2-1 victory. McClure scored KU’s first goal after the ball came loose on a save attempt by the Purdue keeper, and sophomore Kailey Lane scored the game-winner in the 85th minute.

After holding Purdue to a single goal, the 11th-ranked Jayhawks had held opponents to three goals in six matches.

“The mentality of the group is such that it just doesn’t phase them,” Francis said of the early 1-0 deficit. “In the run of play we’re not really giving up a lot of clear chances. Defensively, we’re doing a good job. In set pieces we still have to be a little more on point, but the resilience of this group, that’s one of our core values.

“This really typifies that, for sure.

The Jayhawks open Big 12 play against Texas Sept. 26 at Rock Chalk Park.