MATCH PREVIEW: vs. Omaha
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas soccer team will hit the pitch at Rock Chalk Park on Friday, August 16 for their first and only preseason exhibition match of the 2019 campaign. KU will meet the Omaha Mavericks in a 5 p.m. kickoff. (Kickoff was originally scheduled for 7 p.m. but was moved up to avoid inclement weather).
- 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 will enter 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 10-3-2 in preseason exhibitions since 2004, which includes a 6-1-2 record over the last seven seasons.
- Head coach Mark Francis is entering his 21st season at the helm in Lawrence, boasting a 219-163-34 record with the Jayhawks. Last season he surpassed the 250-plateau in career coaching wins as he now holds a 252-188-35 record in his 24 years of collegiate coaching.
- 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.
ABOUT THE JAYHAWKS
The Kansas 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 the Jayhawks 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.
EXHIBITION MATCH SUCCESS
Kansas will try to continue its streak of solid preseason tune-ups when it welcomes in Omaha Sunday. KU is unbeaten in eight of its last nine exhibition matches and boasts a record of 10-3-2 in preseason friendlies since 2004. The lone blemishes came at the hands of Iowa in 2017 (0-1), to the Butler Bulldogs (2-3) in 2011 and to the Creighton Bluejays (0-3) the year prior.
EXPERIENCE VS. YOUTH
The 2019 edition of the Jayhawks will be a youthful bunch, with 17 of the 28-woman roster boasting only one season of collegiate experience or less. There are 10 true freshmen on this season’s roster, who the coaches are leaning on to contribute almost immediately. The squad will feature six seniors with five of the six members of the 2019 senior class having played in at least 36 matches.
JAYHAWKS PICKED SIXTH IN BIG 12 PRESEASON COACHES’ POLL
Kansas soccer was predicted to finish sixth in the 2019 league standings according to the Big 12 preseason coaches’ poll which was released last week. The ranking marked the seventh time in the last eight years that KU has been picked sixth or higher in the conference’s preseason poll.
Kansas will kick off the 2019 regular season when the Jayhawks welcome the Nebraska Cornhuskers to Rock Chalk Park on Thursday, Aug. 22 at 7 p.m. The former Big 12 rivals have met three times since 2015, with the Cornhuskers coming out on top in each of those contents. The match will be streamed live via Big 12 Now on ESPN+ with Josh Klingler and Huw Williams set to call the action.