KU Soccer takes part in Media Day

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas head soccer coach Mark Francis discussed his 2016 squad at length during the fall sport media day, which combined the Kansas volleyball, cross country and soccer programs. Francis discussed all aspects of the team that returns eight starters and adds nine freshmen this season. Following opening statements and a question and answer session for the coach, now in his 18th season at the helm at KU, the solid media turnout broke into groups to interview student-athletes.
The Jayhawks open their 2016 season this Friday, Aug. 19 versus Minnesota at Rock Chalk Park.
 Jayhawk senior captains Talyer Estrada, Hanna Kallmaier and Jackie Georgoulis discussed the upcoming season with the media Tuesday.Kansas Soccer head coach Mark Francis
Opening statement:
“I’m hoping to get to see the volleyball team compete if there’s enough room in the gym. It sounds like they’re going to be a little crowded. Cross country, football, I’m excited to see Coach (David) Beaty’s group. We actually started off the year as the first ones to compete, so we’ve been going since August 3.
On last season:
“I think coming off of last year, obviously we finished the season well, not in the last game the way we wanted to, but you know, when you’re playing for a Big 12 Championship in your last game then you enter the postseason in the spring with a little bit of excitement that you got there but disappointed that you were one game away from winning the Big 12 Championship. So I think our players definitely took that into the spring and made a lot of progress in terms of adjusting the culture a little bit to where we consistently want to be playing for a championship and I think that that, for our returners was definitely something going into the spring and summer that they approached with.”
On this year’s team:
“[I’m] really excited about this group. I think if there’s anything I like about this team, there’s really a couple things: one is just the consistency, the mentality and how consistently we’ve competed in practice against each other with a very, very even intensity. Way more consistent I think than we’ve probably had in a long, long time. And then the other thing I think is just the depth of this group. We have kind of a mixed group; so we have 27 players, we have nine freshmen, we have seven seniors and then sophomores and juniors filling in the gap. So we have a very big young group and a very big senior group. So we’ve got very, very good leadership.”
On the seniors:
“I think our senior group is all on the same page; they all want the same thing. They felt like we were one short last year and this year they want to take it to that one step further and actually try to win a Big 12 Championship.”
On this year’s exhibition games:
“The two exhibition games we’ve had – usually you only have one, but we played two with such a young group – it gave us a great opportunity to get everybody in the game. I think both games we had two different lineups on the field during the course of the game because we were able to make that many changes.”
On the team’s depth:
“In certain positions we can make substitutions with absolutely no drop-off whatsoever in level. It’s been awhile since we’ve been like that, so I’m excited about that.”
On the leadership of the veterans:
“I think our returners did a really good job in the summer setting the tone with this group about what is and isn’t acceptable, who we are as a program and what makes us tick. So with the returners, again, very good leadership from them and I think they’ve really done a good job setting the tone with this group. Because of that I think the freshmen that are coming in haven’t really missed a beat.”
On the season opener against Minnesota:
“We open up this weekend, Friday, against Minnesota. Minnesota had a great record last year. I think they won 13 or 14 games, went to the tournament, they’re ranked preseason top 25, which is awesome for us – it’s kind of the reverse of what Ray was saying, we’re excited to play somebody that’s ranked in the first game of the season to kind of give us an idea of where we’re at.”
On how Kansas is viewed in the Big 12:
“I think in the Big 12, we don’t get a ton of respect in the preseason rankings, which is awesome. I’m really excited about the fact that we got picked seventh because this group’s way better than that. I think my message to the team on Friday before the game is, ‘we’re not getting a lot of respect and there’s only one way to get that and that’s to earn it’.  So hopefully we’ll show up Friday ready to play, send a message and let people know that this is a pretty good group.”
On how he recruited so many Icelandic players:
“People ask me that and they’re like, ‘What’s the deal with Iceland?’ Well, it really started with one. Erna (Gudjónsdóttir) was the first one that we got and then I e-mailed her and said, ‘Hey we need this position and this position, do you have any friends?’ Fortunately she has friends. I reached out to those young ladies, watched them play on video, went out there [to Iceland] and watched them play.”
On having four international players:
“International kids just kind of give you a little bit different flavor. They’ve played for their countries so they bring that experience. Also in their countries our sport is a huge deal, so they kind of bring that to the culture of our team. To be honest with you, in my experience with international players, they treat it like being a pro. They bring that to our team and I think it really rubs off onto our players. Our other international players, Hanna (Kallmaier) and Aurélie (Gagnet), I mean those guys are the same way. Every day they show up it’s like being a pro. That’s how they approach it and I think that’s really good for the day-to-day mentality of our group.”
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