Jayhawk soccer signs seven for 2017

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas head soccer coach Mark Francis announced Thursday that the Jayhawks have signed seven student-athletes to National Letters of Intent during the early signing period. Kathryn Castro (Plano, Texas), Isabella Cavalcante (Glen Ellyn, Illinois), Avery Hall (McKinney, Texas), Amari Hopkins (Stafford, Virginia), Kailey Lane (Omaha, Nebraska), Olivia Pesek (Omaha, Neb.), and freshman transfer Madison Meador (Ballwin, Missouri) will all suit up in the Crimson and Blue next season.

 “As a team, our overall athleticism and our overall team speed will take a massive jump with this group,” said Francis of his 2017 signing class. “Having graduated seven seniors, five of whom were starters, we lost a lot of people who played a lot of minutes so we’re going to need a lot of these new kids to come in and contribute right away, and I think they’re all capable of doing that. Physically, this is a tough group. They’re competitive and definitely have a bit of a blue collar mentality to them. I know we, as coaches, are excited for this group to come in because they have the potential to help us out in a lot of ways.”


  • Led team in scoring and assists last season for the Plano West Wolves.
  • Named team’s most valuable offensive player following the 2016 season.
  • Helped the Wolves to the 6A District 6 title in 2015.
  • Spent four successful years as a member of the Solar Chelsea Soccer Club from 2013-present.
  • In 2015, helped Chelsea to a third-place finish at the ECNL National Finals in Richmond, Virginia.
  • Also helped Chelsea to back-to-back high school district championships in 2014 and 2015.
  • Has two uncles who have played professionally in the U.S. and abroad. Diego Castro played for six squads in his career, including a stop with Hertha Berlin. Rodrigo Castro played collegiately at Indiana before playing with six teams in his pro career.
  • Has a cousin, Brennan Castro, who is a senior on the Santa Clara men’s soccer team. He is an All-WCC second team defender.



  • Member of the Shockers FC club team out of Chicago.
  • Helped Shockers to ECNL national playoffs in three-straight years from 2014-16.
  • Selected to the Illinois Olympic Development team in 2011.



  • Will come to KU after anchoring stout defenses for both McKenny Boyd HS and Solar Chelsea. 
  • A three-time all-district selection for the Broncos at McKinney as well as the team’s defensive MVP following the 2015-16 season.
  • As a freshman and sophomore, helped her squad to a combined 26 defensive shutouts, as the Broncos claimed second and third-place district finishes in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
  • Spent the last four years with Solar Chelsea, where she was the team captain for the last three years.
  • In 2013-14, she helped Chelsea to the ECNL Texas Conference State title and advanced to the ECNL National Finals in Seattle.
  • Hall also aided Chelsea to the state cup finals in 2013 as well as the International Cup championship that year.
  • Invited to ODP Region III camps in 2012 and 2013 as well as the North Texas ODP camps those same years.



  • Hopkins signs with the Jayhawks after posting stellar stats during two years of high school soccer and more than five years of club.
  • She led the Wildcats with 10 goals and recorded 12 assists as a sophomore in 2014. For her efforts, she was named first-team all-conference, second-team all-region and second-team all-area.
  • Also helped the Wildcats to the Commonwealth District Conference title in 2014.
  • Invited to the the U.S. Soccer Training Center from 2013-15.
  • As a member of FC Virginia, she won the U15 NPL National Final, Region 1 Championship and Virginia state Cup, all in 2015.
  • She also added a Region 1 and Virginia State Cup championship in 2014 as a member of the Prince William Soccer Club.
  • Mother, Patrice Hopkins, was a two-time All-American in track & field at George Mason.



  • In the midst of an impressive career at both the high school and club soccer levels.
  • Has helped Millard North to three-straight district titles (2014-16) as well as a pair of state runner-up finishes in 2014 and 2016.
  • Was named to the Nebraska All-State Second Team as well as the All-Metro Second Team following her sophomore season in 2015.
  • Scored eight goals in her freshman and sophomore seasons and added three assists. 
  • Spent several highly successful years with the Elite Girls Academy club team, which claimed the Nebraska State Championship four times between 2012-17.
  • Also member of teams that claimed National Premier League Midwest Championship in 2014 and USYS Midwest Region II title in 2016.
  • Spent time with Nebraska and Regional Olympic Development Program (ODP) in 2014.



  • An all-state midfielder that has collected state championships at both the high school and club levels
  • A three-time letterwinner at Millard West HS, where she has scored 14 goals and added eight assists over the last two seasons.
  • Helped the Wildcats to back-to-back conference and district titles in 2015 and 2016 and added a Nebraska Class A state championship in 2015.
  • Named to the all-state second team after scoring nine goals her sophomore year.
  • As a member of the Elite Girls Academy club team, won four-consecutive Nebraska state championships as well as the regional title in 2016.
  • In 2014, her Elite Girls club became the first team out of Nebraska to win the Surf Cup.
  • Her brother, Rick, is a sophomore linebacker for the Central Missouri football team.



  • Spent last season at Mississippi, starting in 18 matches and tallied 1,420 minutes of action, all on the back line. She also added 13 shots for the Rebels, four of which were on frame. 
  • Prior to her time in Oxford, she was a four-year letterwinner and a three-time team captain at Marquette High School in Chesterfield, Missouri.
  • At Marquette HS she was named first-team all-metro, first-team all-state, first-team all-region and first team all-conference following her senior campaign in 2016. She also played in the Missouri Athletic Club All-Star Game that year.
  • At the club level, she spent 10 years with St. Louis Scott Gallagher Elite/ECNL from U9-U19 and in her final year, helped the team to the Missouri U19 state cup.
  • Worked her way into the Top Drawer Soccer rankings, checking in at No. 74 in the Girls Top-150 as well as No. 1 Regional (Heartland) and the No. 12 Defender.
  • In 2013, she was invited to the U.S. U15 Girls’ National Team Camp and was a U15 USWNT pool player that year as well.