Kansas State soccer ended its losing streak in dramatic fashion Thursday night in Lawrence, topping Kansas, 2-1, in overtime.
The latest edition of the Sunflower Showdown required an extra 8:21 of game time before K-State’s Caylee Thornhill scored the overtime golden goal to lift the visitors to a victory at Rock Chalk Park.
The start of the match was delayed 85 minutes for inclement weather. A downpour just before halftime delayed the contest another 25 minutes, as the severe weather caused a power outage at the stadium. K-State head Mike Dibbini said he was proud his team overcame those obstacles to pick up its first Big 12 win of the season.
“The delays took away a lot of momentum for both sides,” Dibbini said. “But we were able to get back out here and take care of business and I’m proud of our effort today.”
It marked the Wildcats’ (6-6-0, 1-2-0 Big 12) first victory over the Jayhawks since 2017 — which was the first-ever meeting between the two schools. After that, KU (5-7-1, 0-3-0) won the next three matchups before the rivals fought to a 0-0 draw in double-overtime this past spring in Lawrence.
With the score knotted at 1-all in overtime, Thornhill collected the ball at midfield and passed ahead to Brookelynn Entz. The ball bounced away, but Thornhill was in the right place at the right time, as she blasted it into the right side of the net to bring the match to a close.
It was the latest goal (98:21) of any match in K-State history, and the second game winner in an overtime period since the inception of the program in 2016.
A Lenexa native, Thornhill said “following the play” is an area she needs to improve upon.
She took a step toward doing that Thursday night.
“We’re all tired, but it’s just a matter of who wants it more,” said Thornhill, who scored her second goal of the season. “So it came down to a case of, they just wanted to finish this game. I was like, ‘I’m keeping this run. Even if I don’t make it, at least I can say I made the run.’ We were all putting our effort in there, and I’m pretty sure we had so many girls in the box we were (going to put) that ball away.”
K-State took a 1-0 lead thanks to a goal from junior Kyler Goins in the eighth minute.
Goins lofted the ball from nearly 40 yards away from the net. KU goalkeeper Emilie Gavillet attempted to catch the ball above her head, but moisture on the ball sent it through her gloves and into the goal.
Goins didn’t deny the weather played a factor in her goal.
“I knew it was slick, because it was raining,” said Goins, who collected her second goal of the 2021 campaign and the third of her Wildcat career. “So I was like, ‘OK, maybe if I shoot from right here, I might (get the ball) on her hands.’ Thankfully, it did. But was it a shot? Not really. It was more of a cross — but I’m glad it went in.”
The hosts tied the match in the 36th minute, as Shira Elinav knocked it in after K-State goalkeeper Alaina Werremeyer already made a pair of saves.
With three minutes left in the half, the stadium lights went out, enveloping the field in darkness. The teams left the field and returned 25 minutes later.
Werremeyer played a key role in the road victory, notching a career-high 10 saves. It marked her seventh match with five or more saves. The 10 saves tied for the third most in a Big 12 match in school history — and tied for the fourth-highest save total overall.
Thursday was the Wildcats’ third road victory of the year, tying the single-season record. They also matched their record for wins in the month of September (three); they have won three matches in September on two previous occasions (2016 and 2017).
After starting league play 0-2, Dibbini said his squad perfectly exeuted the game plan Thursday.
“We wanted to disrupt them as much as possible and not let them get into any kind of rhythm,” he said, “and that’s what we did today. They probably didn’t expect that. They probably thought we were going to play out of the back a little bit. We can possess a little bit more, but this was what we wanted to do. We watched them through scout and we felt like this (was) our best chance.”