⚽ Jayhawks to Host Roos in Soccer Exhibition on Friday

LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas women’s soccer team will play is first match of the season when it hosts Kansas City in an exhibition contest on Friday, August 13, at 7 p.m. at Rock Chalk Park. Admission to the exhibition contest is free.

Kansas returns 12 starters from the 2020-21 team with six having started 10 or more matches. Seniors Sarah Peters (goalkeeper), forward (F) Kailey Lane, defender (D) Kaela Hansen, Grace Wiltgen (D) and midfielder (M) Rylan Childers and sophomores Kate Dreyer (M) and Moria Kelley (D) all started 10 or more contests last season. Peters, Hansen, Wiltgen, Childers and Kelley started all 13 matches for Kansas.

Other KU regulars who from 2020-21 include juniors Ellie Prybylski (D/F, seven starts) and Mya Sheridan (F, one start), sophomores Brie Severns (F, six starts), Avery Smith (M, five starts), Shira Elinav (M, four starts) and Mackenzie Boeve (D, four starts) and seniors Italia Bradley (D, two starts) and Samantha Barnett (M, three starts). Kansas has six newcomers on its roster with each being freshmen.

“I like this group. They have a great mentality and great attitude,” said Kansas head coach Mark Francis who is entering his 23rd season at KU. “Their work ethic has been good. They are a really, really coachable group, especially the younger players. The level has gotten better every day.”

Kansas is coming off an unusual season that spanned 2020-21 due to the worldwide pandemic rather than just the normal fall campaign. KU posted a 6-4-3 overall record, which included a 5-3-1 mark in Big 12 play where the Jayhawks finished fourth. All of the league contests were played in the fall. After its win at Texas to open the season, the United Soccer Coaches ranked KU in every fall poll following and the Jayhawks climbed to No. 5 on Oct. 6, 2020, its highest ranking in school history.

Kansas City is coming off a 4-12-1 season in 2020-21 where the Roos finished 1-4-1 in the Summit League finishing seventh. Kansas City is coached by KU alum Jessica Smith who is in her second season with the Roos. She played at Kansas from 2002-05 and was part of the 2003 NCAA Sweet 16 and the 2004 Big 12 regular-season championship teams. Smith was also an assistant coach at Kansas from 2011-15.

“It’s great to see former players who move into coaching,” Francis said. “For Jess to move on to the Division I level is a complement to our program.”

With practice starting August 3, Francis said the Jayhawks are ready to face competition other than themselves.

“Getting 11 players on the field playing in a game format is going to tell us a lot more than when we scrimmage against each other,” Francis said on what he wants to accomplish in Friday’s exhibition contest. “It’s going to show us what we need to address and work on before our regular-season opener next Thursday (Aug. 19) when we host Drake.”