2020 KU Soccer Preview – The Midfielders

LAWRENCE, Kan. – With the 2020 kickoff less than 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, eight make up the midfield contingency. Here is a breakdown of the midfield group:

Returnees (6): Senior Kathryn Castro, Senior Avery Hall, Senior Ceri Holland, Junior Sam Barnett, Sophomore Ebba Costow, Sophomore Graceley Briley
Newcomers (2): Junior Rylan Childers, Freshman Avery Smith
Lost (1): Sophie Maierhofer

The Rundown
A veteran and experienced group will make up the midfield for the 2020 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.

Senior Ceri Holland returns for her final season and will be expected to control the game from the holding midfield position. The preseason All-Big 12 pick has been a starter for every match of her Jayhawk career thus far and will bring much-valued experience and technical skill to the KU midfield. She was second on the second a year ago with 8 goals and six assists, but expect those numbers, and her role as a goal scorer, to increase in 2020.

Two other veteran midfielders are slated to return this season with senior Kathryn Castro and junior Samantha Barnett back. The duo combined for nearly 2,000 minutes and 16 starts last season, as well as three goals and three assists.

Transfer Rylan Childers joins the Jayhawks after an impressive two seasons at Kansas City. A two-time All-WAC First Team selection, Childers has a knack for goal-scoring having led the Roos in each of her two seasons, netting 11 and 10 in her freshman and junior years, respectively. Her ability to attack out of the midfield will make the Jayhawks a tough offensive threat for opposing defenses to handle.

Sophomores Ebba Costow and Gracely Briley should see their minutes increase in 2020. Watch for both to make an immediate offensive impact as they both are able to bring different dynamics for the midfielders in transition.

Senior Avery Hall adds to the depth in the midfield and will be looked upon to add key reserve minutes in 2020. Hall’s minutes on the field have steadily increased over the last three seasons and expect that to continue this year.

The lone freshman in the midfield group, Avery Smith, will have a great chance to battle for immediate playing time. Smith comes to Lawrence after an impressive high school career in Nebraska and her technical prowess will make her a prime candidate to make headlines early in the season.

Francis on the Midfielders:

"We've got Ceri Holland returning. She started and was one of our captains last year and was a dominant force for us in the holding midfield spot. Kathryn Castro played a lot of minutes and started some games, Sam Barnett played a lot of minutes and started some games, Avery Hall got a lot of minutes especially late in the season. So definitely looking for some leadership out of those guys to help the new guys get on track with what we're trying to do."

The position-by-position women’s soccer breakdown continues Tuesday, Sept. 8 with the Defenders.


The Jayhawks will begin the 2020 season on Friday, September 11 when they travel to Austin, Texas to take on the Texas Longhorns in a 7 p.m. (CT) kickoff. KU will return to Lawrence a week later for its home opener on Friday, Sept. 18, and will welcome the Oklahoma Sooners to Rock Chalk Park.