Kansas Soccer Adds Five for 2010 Season

Feb. 3, 2010


Kansas Soccer Head Coach Mark Francis announced Tuesday that the team has signed four student-athletes to letters of intent during the early signing period, and has also added a recruited walk-on. Maryl Behm (St. Charles, Ill.), Madi Hillis (Edmond, Okla.), Caroline Kastor (Wichita, Kan.), Kaitlyn Stroud (Fayetteville, Ga.) and Savannah Whitaker (Albuquerque, N.M.) will all suit up for the Crimson and Blue next season.

“Even though this is a smaller class than others in the past, the quality is definitely still there,” Francis said.

“All 5 of these girls will come in and challenge the returning players. I look forward to working with them in August and integrating them into the team.”

Behm, a defender/midfielder from St. Charles North High School, helped lead her high school team to a No. 5 ranking in the country by ESPN Rise. Behm was named the most versatile player on her team, after playing eight different positions, while leading the Polar Bears to a 15-2-3 overall record while surrendering just 10 goals (0.5 per game). As a club player with Fox Valley Premier, Behm helped lead her team to a US Soccer Club Region D title, and helped them place third in the US Soccer Club National Tournament.

“We discovered Meryl at our summer camp last year. She is a very tough defender that makes it difficult for her opponent to play. She has a tremendous work ethic and is extremely coachable. We see Meryl competing at the center back position for us in the fall and are expecting great things from her,” Francis said.

Hillis, a 5-foot-5 midfielder/forward from Edmond Memorial High School, helped lead her ESC ’91 Black club team to a Oklahoma State Cup championship as well as the Southern Region U18 championship. Hillis’ team played in the US Youth Soccer National Championship tournament in Boston, Mass., this past July. She has also played for the ’91 Region III team which made a trip to Brazil this past year, and has played for the Oklahoma State ODP team the past six years. In high school, Hillis is a three-time all-conference and all-district selection, including last spring when she scored 11 goals with 11 assists, leading the Bulldogs to an 11-2 overall record.

“Madi is a versatile player that can play as a forward or in the midfield. Her experience with the ODP regional team this past year will prove invaluable as she makes the transition to the college game especially playing in Brazil against the level of competition over there. We see Madi challenging the returning forwards and midfielders right away,” Francis said.

Kastor, a 5-foot-3 forward/midfielder from Kapaun Mount Carmel Catholic High School in Wichita, has played for the Kansas State and Region II ODP teams the past two years. She was selected to play on the ’91 Region II team for an interregional tournament in Jackson, Miss., in December. Kastor is a two-time all-region selection as well as a 2009 all-state pick. She scored 46 goals with nine assists this past spring during her high school season and was named the team’s Offensive Player of the Year. In her first three years of high school, she has 67 goals and 24 assists.

“Caroline will be one of the fastest players on our roster. She brings tremendous speed and athleticism and a dynamic ability going forward. She is a dangerous forward who will give us a different dimension especially in the ability to get in behind the opponents defense. Her experience with the ODP regional team the last two years will definitely help her in the transition to college,” Francis said.

Stroud, a 5-foot-11 goalkeeper from Starrs Mill High School in Fayetteville, Ga., has put up impressive numbers with the ’92 AFC Lightning club team. During the Fall 2009 season, she allowed just two goals and posted a .920 save percentage which led the Region III Premier League. Over the last five seasons, Stroud has been in net to help the Lightning achieve a 41-3-9 record and win the 2008 Disney Showcase in Orlando, Fla. She has been named all-county in each of the past three seasons, helping her high school reach the state tournament finals in 2007 and the semifinals in 2009.

“We’re excited to add Kaitlyn to our goalkeeping crew. She has great size and athletic ability. Along with her physical attributes, Kaitlyn has one of the most competitive natures I’ve ever seen. She will be a great addition to the program,” Associate Head Coach Kelly Miller said.

Whitaker, a 5-foot-4 forward from Sandia High School in Albuquerque, N.M., was a four-time all-district, all-state and all-metro selection. She completed her high school career this past fall, and was named the New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame co-female athlete of the year. She was also an All-America nominee last season as well. She played one year for the New Mexico State ODP team last fall, and served as co-captain of the Titans club team last summer.

“Savannah will also come in as one of the top 2 or 3 fastest players on our roster. She has an unbelievable change of speed which will cause a lot of problems for our opponents next fall. She will immediately challenge the returning forwards for the wide positions up front,” Francis said.

The five new Jayhawks will look to help the team build on a 12-8-2 finish last season, which saw it qualify for the Big 12 Soccer Championship for the 10th-consecutive year.