Soccer Takes on Eastern Kentucky in Friday Home-Opener

Aug. 26, 2010


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The 2010 soccer season officially gets underway Friday night when Kansas hosts Eastern Kentucky at 5 p.m., at the Jayhawk Soccer Complex.

The Jayhawks, who return 21 letterwinners and eight starters this season, are looking to build on last year’s mark of 12-8-2 with a mix of veteran leadership and highly-touted newcomers. Head coach Mark Francis, now in his 12th season at KU, will be relying on a young group to provide the bulk of the offense and while going with tried-and-true upperclassmen on defense. In goal, a fierce competition between three keepers currently wages with a leader yet to emerge.

Forward Whitney Berry is coming off of a breakout freshman season, in which the sophomore scored six goals, assisted in nine and was third on the team with 21 points. Berry, an All-Big 12 Honorable Mention out of Wichita, has emerged as a leader this fall in the preseason with strong showings in KU’s exhibition match against Creighton and in intrasquad play.

Aiding Berry will be three other Wichita natives in freshman Caroline Kastor and juniors Kortney and Kelsey Clifton. Kaitlyn Cunningham will also be in the mix in her final season as a Jayhawk.

After being sidelined with an illness for much of her sophomore season, Kortney is looking to return to her freshman year form. In 2008, Kortney scored five goals and 11 points and was one of the most efficient starters with a .522 shot on-goal percentage.

Senior Rachel Morris and sophomore Sarah Robbins will anchor KU’s midfield after both earned starting time last season. Morris made the most of her starts, scoring a career-high five goals and eight points.

Returning midfielders will be pushed for minutes by freshman Madi Hillis and redshirt freshman Amy Grow.

Four seniors are expected to lead the backfield this season. Geneva Magness and Lauren Jackson will once again team up on the right side while Caitlyn Noble and Katie Williams will patrol the left. Sophomore Shelby Williams, whose seven goals were the second-most last season, will make the switch to defender this season.

Although last year’s top goalkeeper Kat Liebetrau returns for her second season of play, she is challenged by highly-touted incoming freshman Kaitlyn Stroud and Logan Reed, who redshirted last season. In 11 starts as a redshirt freshman, Liebetrau owned a 1.54 goals against average mark and collected 47 saves. However, Stroud comes into her first season as a Jayhawk with an impressive résumé.

As a senior, Stroud helped Starrs Mill High School to a Georgia state championship and her club team to a No. 2 national ranking. Stroud allowed just two goals in the 2009 club season while posting a league-leading .920 save percentage.

The Colonels come into Friday’s match with two matches under their belts this season and a 1-1 record. KU will follow up Friday night’s opener with a five-match road stretch, starting Sunday afternoon with Georgia. The Bulldogs are not currently ranked, but are receiving votes in the adidas/NSCAA Coaches Poll.