Kansas prevailed 3-1 behind two goals from freshman Jessica Kilpatrick and a score by junior Rachel Gilfillan.
Kilpatrick opened the scoring just 1:33 into the game when junior midfielder Lauren Williams dribbled through the Illinois State defense and found a wide-open Kilpatrick near the right post. Kilpatrick chipped a shot past the Redbirds’ goalkeeper for a quick 1-0 KU advantage.
ISU evened the score late in the first half, but the Jayhawks regained the advantage three minutes into the second half when Gilfillan buried a penalty kick. The PK was set up after the Illinois State goalkeeper received a yellow card for taking Gilfillan down in the box. Kilpatrick added her second goal – and sixth score of the season – in the 84th minute, putting the game out of reach.
The win is Kansas’ first in NCAA Tournament history, having dropped it’s only previous game 1-0 to Brigham Young in 2001.
Sophomore Caroline Smith, KU’s all-time leading scorer and a semifinalist for the Hermann Award, nursed an injured right knee and didn’t attempt a shot Friday night while being double-teamed. She said she considers herself among Kilpatrick’s biggest fans, however, for taking the pressure off her as a scorer.
Smith led the Big 12 in scoring with 18 goals this year. Meanwhile, Kilpatrick is second on the KU roster with six goals – four coming in the last four games.
“She’s scored some awesome goals this year and some big goals for us,” Smith said. “It takes the pressure off of me and it takes the pressure off of other people.”
The Jayhawks will next face archrival Missouri at 1 p.m. Sunday with a Sweet 16 berth at Stake. The Tigers beat Eastern Illinois 1-0 on Friday night.
Kansas downed Missouri 2-0 during the regular-season meeting in Columbia. While the Tigers will be seeking revenge for the loss, the Jayhawks will be seeking revenge for Missouri giving freshman Michelle Rasmussen a season-ending injury on a dirty tackle late in the game.