Kansas returns 18 letterwinners and eight starters from last season’s team.
|Exhibition: Kansas vs. Butler
||Rock Chalk Park (2,500)
||No meetings in regular season
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LAWRENCE, Kan. – The 2016 version of the Kansas soccer team will see its first action of the season when the Jayhawks play the first of two preseason exhibition matches against the Butler Bulldogs on Tuesday, Aug. 9. The match will take place at Rock Chalk Park with kickoff slated for 11 a.m.
ABOUT THE JAYHAWKS
The Kansas Jayhawks return 15 letterwinners and eight starters from the 2015 squad which went 10-9-2, finished sixth in the Big 12 and made the program’s first appearance in the conference tournament championship game. Mark Francis is entering his 18th season at the helm in Lawrence and holds a 188-142-24 record with the Jayhawks and is second among active Big 12 coaches with 212 career coaching victories.
The Jayhawk offense will be looking to fill the void left by outing seniors Liana Salazar and Ashley Williams, who combined for 49 goals during their respective careers, which included 31 over the last two seasons. Sophomore Grace Hagan is Kansas’ top returning scorer after tallying four goals and three assists during her freshman campaign. The 2016 KU roster features six other players who tallied a goal and/or an assist during last season.
The KU defense is again to be expected to be stout this year, with the return of four two-year starters as well as several talented reserves. Over the last two seasons the Jayhawks are boasting a goals-against average of 1.03 and have held opponents to 12.3 shots per game during that span. Kansas will once again carry three keepers on the 2016 roster and all seem fit for the starting role. Junior Maddie Dobyns was the regular starter for the Jayhawks last season and will be joined by sophomore Lauren Breshears and redshirt freshman Regan Gibbs.
ABOUT THE BULLDOGS
The Butler Bulldogs enter the new season after finishing the 2015 campaign with a program record 16 wins, the BIG EAST tournament championship and the program’s first appearance in the NCAA tournament. The Bulldogs return 20 letterwinners and nine starters from that squad.
Last season, the Bulldogs scored 37 goals and were only shutout in two of their 24 outings. Butler notched 14.6 shots per game and put over 44 percent of those on frame. Senior midfielder Serina Kashimoto returns after a six goal, six assist season and earning a spot on the All-America second team. She’s joined be sophomores Halle Stelbasky and Paige Monaghan, who were each BIG EAST All-Freshman honorees last year and combined for 13 goals and six assists.
The Butler defense allowed 23 opponent goals in 2015, which included eight against BIG EAST opponents. The Bulldogs tallied 10 shutouts in 2015 and held opponents to one goal in nine additional outings. Bulldog opponents posted just under nine shots per match, including 3.5 shots on goal per game. Junior Madi Card is the top returning goalkeeper after she saw time in 22 matches last season between the posts for Butler. In those matches she amassed 57 saves, stopped 73 percent of the shots put on goal and tallied nine shutouts.
Tari St. John and Rob Alman are starting their fifth season as co-head coaches. The duo has guided the Bulldogs to a 48-27-9 record in that span. St. John has been in Indianapolis for 10 seasons after graduating from Purdue in 2003, while Alman is starting his seventh year with the Butler program.
Kansas returns eight players from last year’s team that started at least 17 games. Included in the eight returning starters are six players who have amassed 35 starts or more during their Jayhawk careers.
Senior Tayler Estrada leads the way among active KU players with 60 starters in her KU career, while senior Jackie Georgoulis has been a starter in 47 matches. Junior Kayla Morrison has started each of her team’s 42 matches during her first two seasons in Lawrence. Seniors Hanna Kallmaier and Morgan Williams have 39 starts to their credit with senior Aurelie Gagnet not far behind with 36.
Sophomore Aurélie Gagnet is also set to return for the Jayhawks a year after she was named to the Big 12 All-Newcomer Team following her debut season in Lawrence. Her return will be delayed as she is currently suiting up for the French National team in the U20 World Cup now taking place in Canada. Gagney will rejoin the Jayhawks once France’s tournament run is complete.
EXHIBITION MATCH SUCCESS
Kansas will try to continue its streak of solid preseason tune-ups when it welcomes in the Butler Bulldogs Tuesday. KU is unbeaten in five-straight exhibition matches and boasts a record of 7-2-2 in preseason friendlies since 2004. In fact, the last team to hand Kansas a preseason loss was Butler when the Bulldogs topped KU, 3-2, prior to the 2011 campaign. Last year, KU took part in two tune-ups last year, with the Jayhawks taking down the Drake Bulldogs, 5-0, before playing to a draw against the North Dakota State Bison, 2-2.
EXPERIENCE VS. YOUTH
Few teams in the history of Kansas soccer have had a team with has many veterans alongside so many newcomers as the 2016 Jayhawks. This year’s team will feature seven seniors, two of which are fifth-year seasons. Six of the seven members of the 2016 senior class has played in at least 49 matches during their careers and each senior has been in the starting lineup on at least nine occasions.
On the other hand, over 40 percent of this year’s Kansas squad will feature freshmen as the Jayhawks will see nine true freshman as well as a pair of redshirt freshmen on the roster. No other KU team since 1999 (Mark Francis era) has had a roster with more than 10 freshmen.
BIG CLEATS TO FILL
The 2016 version of the Jayhawks will try to fill the void left by two of the most talented goal scorers in program history. Graduated seniors Liana Salazar and Ashley Williams combined for 49 goals and 22 assists during their respective KU careers, which included 31 goals over the last two seasons. Salazar ended her career as the No. 2 goal scorer in program history with her 28 goals, while Williams closed her collegiate career at No. 7 on KU’s all-time chart with 21.
With the loss of the senior duo, Salazar and Williams, as well as All-Big 12 freshman Parker Roberts, the Jayhawks will need to replace over half of their offensive production from a season ago. Sophomore Grace Hagan could be the top candidate to pull the offensive slack. The Wichita, Kansas product notched four goals and four assists in her first season in Lawrence last year, while seniors Jackie Georgoulis, Ashley Pankey and sophomore Anna Courtney combined for the Jayhawks’ remaining six goals in 2016.
JUST ONE WILL DO IT
The 2016 Jayhawks will try to carry on an impressive trend that has developed over the last three seasons when it comes to scoring. Since the start of the 2012 season, the Kansas soccer team has scored at least one goal in 53 matches. The Jayhawks’ record in those matches: 42-7-4. Kansas was won or drawn all but seven matches in which it has scored, including a 25-4-1 record in those instances during the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
FIRST TO SCORE, WINS GALORE
Over its past 82 games, dating back to the beginning of the 2012 season, Kansas has developed an interesting trend when it comes to which team tallies the first goal of the match. During that 82-game span, the Jayhawks have been on the losing end only once in the games which they have put in the match’s first goal. Kansas has amassed a record of 40-1-3 in those games, which included an 8-0-1 mark last year. The Jayhawks’ win over Baylor in the Big 12 Championship semifinals last November marked their 31st-consecutive unbeaten match when KU has scored first.
On the flip side, KU hasn’t been quite as fortunate when its opponents have gotten on the board first. Kansas’ wins over Colorado College and Arkansas last season were the first and only wins in that same 82-game span when finding itself trailing 1-0 at any point in a match. The Jayhawks are 2-32-1 in those games over the last four season, including an 0-6-0 mark in 2014 and a 2-8-0 mark in 2015.
LET’S GET DEFENSIVE
With the entire KU back line set to return this season, the Jayhawks are once again expected to be a stout defensive time. Over the last two seasons, the Jayhawks shutout 14 opponents and boasted a goals-against average of 1.03. Kansas allowed just 25 goals last year and no more than one opponent goal in all but five of their 21 matches. KU went 307-straight minutes without conceding a goal from Oct. 2-16, the 10th-longest streak in school history and the third streak of over 290 minutes in the last two seasons.
Kansas opponents’ lack of goal scoring may be attributed to the Jayhawks’ ability to keep the opposing team’s shot percentage low. Of the 335 shots KU allowed last season, opponents put just 38 percent of those on target and only got nine percent of those shots past the KU goalkeeper and into the back of the net.
KU will get its final tune-up for the 2016 regular season when the Jayhawks welcome in the Creighton Bluejays for their second exhibition match on Friday, Aug. 12. The Jayhawks and Bluejays will hit the pitch at Rock Chalk Park for a 7 p.m., kickoff. One week later, Kansas will open up its regular season against Big Ten foe, Minnesota, on Aug. 19. Kickoff is slated for 5 p.m., in Lawrence. The match will be televised on Time Warner Cable Sports Channel and ESPN3.
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