Salazar Reflects on National Team Experience

March 26, 2012

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Hoping to make her fourth World Cup appearance, Kansas soccer freshman Liana Salazar fell just short of that goal as she and the Colombian U-20 National Team lost in the South America Championship in January.

The Bogota, Colombia native played seven games over a span of two and a half weeks from Jan. 20-Feb. 5 in the CONMEBAL qualifiers in Curitiba, Brazil. Colombia finished runner up to eventual World Cup qualifier Argentina through the first round of pool play but then lost back-to-back games to fall out of contention for a top-two finish, which would have qualified them for the Japan World Cup 2012.

Despite being selected as a team captain for her national team, Salazar remained humble about the honor.

“It wasn’t very different for me (being a team captain) because I always try to do my best and help other people do their best,” said Salazar. “I think the only difference for a captain is that they wear an arm band because each player can be the captain. Each player can give many different things to improve the performance of other people.”

Salazar and her team were able to finish CONMEBAL strong notching a win over Paraguay to take third place with a 4-3 overall record. Brazil went undefeated during the event and will join Argentina in Japan later this summer.

Last year Salazar joined current KU freshman Ingrid Vidal at the Women’s World Cup in Germany. She believed that event, coupled with her new experiences at Kansas, helped her maintain her composure on such a big stage in this year’s South America Championship, something she considers one of her biggest contributions to the Colombian National Team.

“I have a different mentality than the younger players,” Salazar explained. “I had more experience. Although it was an important game I could be more relaxed. My teammates see me relax so they play more relaxed.”

Salazar is anxious to continue to use her national team experience to become an important component on the Jayhawk soccer squad once again this year. She has the personal drive to keep working hard in the off season in a new town she now considers home.

“I feel like Lawrence is my home, I feel comfortable here,” Salazar said. “Relationships with other players are better because I can speak the language better now.”