KU Soccer to Open Spring Season Saturday in Lawrence
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas soccer will open its 2016 spring exhibition season Saturday when the Jayhawks take on the KU Men’s Club Team inside Rock Chalk Park. Kickoff is slated for 11 a.m., with admission free to the public.
“We use the spring to help our players improve individually,” said head coach Mark Francis of his objectives heading into the two-month long spring season. “We do a lot of technical work and functional training in practice and hopefully that will all collectively come together and help the team improve as a whole. Intensity has been great in our training sessions so far and the focus has been good as well.”
Junior midfielder Jackie GeorgoulisSaturday’s match will be the first of five exhibitions Kansas will take part in this spring. KU will play host to the two-time reigning champions of the National Women’s Soccer League, FC Kansas City, on Saturday, March 26. The match with FCKC will begin at noon inside Rock Chalk Park. The following week, Kansas hits the road to take on the Tulsa Golden Hurricane on Friday, April 9.
Following the road trip, KU will return home a week later to welcome in the Iowa Hawkeyes on Saturday, April 16. The spring season will then come to a close after a visit from the Arkansas Razorbacks on Saturday, April 30 at 3 p.m. Kickoff from Rock Chalk Park is scheduled for 3 p.m.
“Our spring schedule is strong again this year, it will give our kids so good opportunities,” said Francis. “Playing FC Kansas City is always a good experience for our players. We’re playing Iowa and we’re also going to see Arkansas, who both are always tough teams. So we’ll have several chances over the next two months to play some good opponents.”
Kansas is coming off another successful season, which saw the Jayhawks finish 10-9-2 and with a 3-4-1 record in Big 12 play. KU advanced to the Big 12 Championship final for the first time in program history, where it eventually fell to Texas Tech, 1-0.
“We’ve really broken it down by position this year,” explained Francis on areas he would like his team to improve over the spring season. “On defense, we’re really working on playing stronger out of the back and playing stronger in the air. Our midfield has been seeing a lot of passes in the attacking third of the field and receiving passes with their back to the goal. With the forwards, serving the ball from wide and finishing in the box are the two main areas where we want to see improvement.”
The Jayhawks will have some big shoes to fill left by departing seniors Liana Salazar and Ashley Williams. Salazar was a three-time All-Big 12 First Team honoree, a Third Team All-American and the program’s No. 2 all-time leading goal scorer, while Williams became the eighth Jayhawk to tally 20 or more career goals. Kansas is expecting to see the return of eight starters from last season and will see a veteran-laden team with 12 upperclassmen suiting up in the Crimson and Blue.
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