MATCH PREVIEW: vs. Nebraska
MATCH 1 – NEBRASKA
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas Soccer will begin the 25th season in program history on Thursday, Aug. 22 when the Jayhawks host the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Kickoff from Rock Chalk Park is set for 7 p.m. and will be televised via Big 12 Now on ESPN+. Josh Klingler (play-by-play) and Huw Williams (analyst) will call the action.
The Jayhawks return 18 letterwinners and nine starters from the 2018 squad which went 12-6-3 and finished sixth in the Big 12. Mark Francis is entering his 21st season at the helm in Lawrence and holds a 219-163-34 record with KU and is second among active Big 12 coaches with 252 career coaching victories.
The Jayhawk offense will be looking to fill the void left by seniors Grace Hagan and Taylor Christie who combined for 11 goals and five assists. KU returns their top scorer from a year ago, however, with Katie McClure back for her senior campaign. She led the squad with 11 goals in 2018 and posted 58 shots, good for second on the team. The KU roster features six other players who tallied a goal and/or an assist last season.
The KU defense is again to be expected to be stout this year, with the return of each of last season’s starters as well as several talented reserves. In 21 matches last year the Jayhawks boasted a goals-against average of 1.03 but allowed one or fewer goals on 14 of those occasions. Kansas will carry four keepers on the 2019 roster, with sophomore Sarah Peters back after starting between the posts for every match last season. Peters tallied nine shutouts in her debut campaign and collected 57 saves.
Nebraska enters the new season coming off a 2018 campaign that saw the Cornhuskers finish with a 9-7-5 overall record and a 5-3-3 mark in the Big Ten. NU advanced to the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament before the season came to an end with a 2-0 loss to Minnesota. The team returns 18 of 23 letterwinners from a year ago. Nebraska’s top returning goal scorer is senior Savanah Uveges, who turned in eight last year to go along with four assists. Brenna Ochoa returns for her senior year after posting a team-leading eight assists in 2019. In goal, senior Aubrei Corder returns after starting each of NU’s 21 matches last season. She collected five solo shutouts and tallied 56 saves as the Cornhusker stopper.
- Kansas will begin its 25th season of women’s soccer when the Jayhawks host Nebraska in the 2019 regular-season opener. It will be the 24th meeting between the former conference rivals.
- The Jayhawks return 18 letterwinners and nine starters from last year’s squad that finished 12-6-3 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. KU notched a sixth-place finish in Big 12 play with a 5-4-0 record.
- Kansas enters the season receiving votes in the United Soccer Coaches’ preseason top-25 poll. Last season the Jayhawks spent five weeks ranked among the nation’s top-25, climbing as high as No. 18. Seven of KU’s has regular-season opponents are ranked or receiving votes in the preseason poll.
- KU will see the return of their top offensive threat from a year ago. Senior Katie McClure was the team’s second-leading scorer each of the last three years, knocking in 11 a year ago to go along with three assists. McClure also tied the program record for seven game-winning goals last season, four of which coming in overtime.
- McClure enters her final season at Kansas ranking ninth on the school’s all-time goal scorer list. She has tallied 22 goals during her three years in Lawrence and needs to hit the back of the net just more times to enter the top-five of the prestigious list.
- The Jayhawks return all five defensive starters as well as its goalkeeper from a season ago. Last year the KU backline tallied nine shutouts, the third-most in program history, and constructed three opponent scoreless stretches of 240 minutes or longer.
- Kansas is 11-7-2 in regular-season openers during Mark Francis’ first 20 seasons as head coach but have won just one match in openers dating back to 2015.
- The Jayhawks were picked to finish sixth in the Big 12’s preseason poll as voted on by the league’s coaches. KU has finished sixth or better in the league standings all but once over the last seven seasons.
The Jayhawks will conclude their season-opening weekend when they host the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers on Sunday, Aug. 25. Kansas and Loyola will kick off inside Rock Chalk Park at 1 p.m. The match will be broadcast live via Big 12 Now on ESPN+ with Josh Klingler (play-by-play) and Huw Williams (analyst) set to call the action.