Jayhawks Split Final Games of Spring Exhibition Play

April 27, 2013

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042713aaa_54_8882466.jpegLAWRENCE, Kan. – The University of Kansas soccer team closed out its 2013 spring season as KU defeated UMKC but fell to Arkansas Saturday at the Jayhawk Soccer Complex. Kansas finished its 2013 exhibition slate 7-3-2, including a 3-2-2 record against NCAA competition.

“The level of play today was really good,” said head coach Mark Francis. “I thought we competed and moved the ball around really well, which was encouraging because that’s what we’ve been working on these last few weeks.”

In the first game of the day, the Jayhawks hit the pitch versus a veteran UMKC squad. KU didn’t waste any time as Caroline Kastor got her team on the board in the second minute. A cross from teammate Courtney Dickerson found Kastor just five yards from the Kangaroo goal, where Kastor converted and gave the Jayhawks an early 1-0 lead.

Just eight minutes later it was Dickerson that found the scoring column when the freshman was in the right place at the right time following a rebound the UMKC goalkeeper could not reign in. Dickerson then got on the end of a solid streak from the right side of the box to put KU up 2-0.

In the second half the Kansas offense stayed potent. Senior Sarah Robbins found space in the 41st minute and, after a long run, snuck a left-footed strike past the UMKC keeper to make the score 3-0. In the meantime, KU’s defense was unbreakable. Led by senior Shelby Williamson, who was seeing her first action as KU’s goalkeeper, the Jayhawks kept the Kangaroo attack at bay. Williamson went on to collect the shutout in her final appearance in a KU uniform.

Freshman Ashley Williams added Kansas’ fourth goal late in the match with an impressive play in to the box, which snuck over the reach of the goalkeeper. The final buzzer sounded just five minutes later as KU defeated the visitors, 4-0.

KU returned to the pitch a few hours later to take on SEC foe Arkansas, the same team which The Jayhawks will open their 2013 regular season against in August. Both teams played even for the majority of the game. Kansas saw several scoring opportunities in the opening 30 minutes but was unable to convert against a stubborn Razorback defensive line.

With the score still tied at 0 and just seven minutes remaining on the clock, Arkansas pulled ahead when a header off a cornerkick found the back of the Jayhawk net. A few late pushes by the Kansas offense were unsuccessful as Arkansas went on to claim the victory, 1-0.

With the their two-month, 12-match spring slate now complete, the Kansas coaches and players will now break for the summer before returning to practice in early August. After the lengthy exhibition season the Kansas staff is pleased with the strides the team took during the spring.

“I think the girls really did a good job of maintaining their focus because this spring season was pretty long,” explained Francis. “Some of our big focuses were changing the culture in terms of our mentality – how we compete, leadership, communication – and I think we made huge strides in those areas.”

Kansas will play its first and only exhibition game of the spring when the Jayhawks take on Nebraska-Omaha in Lawrence on Aug. 18 for a 1 p.m. kickoff. KU will then open its highly anticipated 2013 regular season when it travels to Fayetteville, Ark., to play the Razorbacks at 7 p.m. on Aug. 23.

“I’m really excited for the fall,” concluded Francis. “We’ve got a great group coming in and a great nucleus coming back. It will be an exciting group. I think offensively we’re going to be very dangerous and, even though we’ll be a little young in the backfield, we’ll be athletic and organized. I also believe our midfield will be one of the best in the conference. We’re excited.”

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