LAWRENCE, Kan. – With the 2019 kickoff just over a week away, KUAthletics.com sat down with Jayhawk head coach Mark Francis, to breakdown and preview each of his team’s position groups and the players set to take the field this season. This marks the second of four position-by-position previews for the upcoming season.
PREVIEWS: Forwards | Midfielders | Defenders | Goalkeepers
On the current 28-player roster, seven make up the midfield contingency. Here is a breakdown of the midfield group:
Returnees (5): Senior Sophie Maierhofer, Junior Kathryn Castro, Junior Avery Hall, Junior Ceri Holland, Sophomore Sam Barnett (switch from forward)
Newcomers (3): Freshman Graceley Briley, Freshman Ebba Costow
Lost (3): Anna Courtney, Miriam Melugin, Kaycie Young
A veteran and experienced group will make up the midfield for the 2019 Jayhawks, and as always, will play a big part in the overall success for a Mark Francis-coached team. Kansas’ midfield has always been among the strongest in the Big 12 year in, and year out, and this season appears to be no different.
Junior Ceri Holland returns for her junior season and will be expected to control the game from the holding midfield position. The England native has been a started for every match of her Jayhawk career thus far and will bring much-valued experience and technical skill to the KU midfield. She’s tallied a pair of goals and added five assists in her first two years in the Crimson and Blue, but expect those numbers to increase in 2019.
Two other veteran midfielders are slated to return this season with senior Sophie Maierhofer and junior Kathryn Castro back. The duo has more than 3,300 minutes of combined experience during their collegiate careers, with Maierhofer having added five goals and 30 shots during her time in Lawrence.
Sophomore Samantha Barnett is also expected to be a key contributor in 2019, but will be positioned in a new spot on the field after spending the majority of her freshman year as a forward. Watch for the Edmond, Oklahoma native to make an immediate offensive impact as she will bring a different dynamic for the midfielders in transition.
Junior Avery Hall adds to the depth in the midfield and will be looked upon to add key reserve minutes in 2019. Hall’s minutes on the field have steadily increased over the last two seasons and expect that to continue this year.
A pair of freshman have a great chance to battle for immediate playing time in Graceley Briley and Ebba Costow. Briley comes to Lawrence after an impressive high school career, while Costow joined the Jayhawks after seeing action with one of the top leagues in Sweden. Briley’s athleticism along with Costow’s technical prowess will make them prime candidates to make headlines early in the season.
Francis on the Midfielders:
"We’ll play with three in the midfield. Obviously, we return Ceri (Holland), who started for us last year and was very consistent for us in the holding midfield spot. We’ve got some experience coming back in there. We’ll have a lot of options in the midfield. It’s just a matter of the kids battling it out and figuring out who is going to get the nod in those spots."
The position-by-position women’s soccer breakdown continues Thursday, Aug. 15 with the Defenders.
The Jayhawks will begin the 2019 regular-season on Thursday, August 22 when the Nebraska Cornhuskers come to Lawrence. Kickoff from Rock Chalk Park is slated for 7 p.m. KU will take the pitch for it’s one and only preseason exhibition on Friday, Aug. 16 to take on the Omaha Mavericks, also at 7 p.m.
Single-game tickets for the 2019 Kansas soccer season are now available for purchase. Tickets range from $8 for adults and $5 for seniors/youth. Season tickets are also still available for $50 and will provide general admission seating to all 10 of KU’s regular-season matches. For additional ticket information contact the Kansas Sales Team by calling 800-34-HAWKS or visit kuathletics.com/tickets.