Travel Blog: Soccer takes on Europe

The University of Kansas women’s soccer team has traveled east this week to participate in a nine-day tour of Europe March 16-25. During trip, the Jayhawks will play four exhibition matches in four countries versus international competition, which will include visits to The Netherlands, Belgium, France and Germany. Assistant coach Bri Young will provide updates on the team’s journey, and will get perspectives and insights from select players during their travels.


POST #3 / March 22 / Essen, Germany

On to Germany

And we are back! With yesterday being a travel day we decided to take a little hiatus and give the blog a chance to regroup. Today we started the morning with a training with Kyle Berger, U15 Academy Director of Borrussia Munchengladbag. It was a chilly one but the girls brought the intensity. The rain was coming down, as the coaching staff took a back seat to give Kyle the reigns. I’m sure the girls enjoyed hearing another voice other than the pesky four they hear us every day. With the afternoon off, we were able to explore the local cuisine. Currywurst was a popular choice, along with some Schnitzel. The town square is quant and full of German culture. Local markets line the streets with fresh breads, vegetables, and fruits as far as the eye can see. We continue to immerse ourselves in awesome activities and learn about different cultures. It continues to be a great trip! We can’t wait for the adventures tomorrow. Auf Wiedersehen from Germany.

Trailing 2-1, the Jayhawks score three unanswered goals to claim their 4th victory on the European tour, defeating SGS Essen 4-2.

Taylor Christie scores the eventual game winner. She now has 3 goals and 2 assists in four games. #RockChalk #KUsoccer

— Kansas Soccer (@KUWSoccer) March 22, 2018

In their fourth game of the trip, the Jayhawks prevailed in Essen, Germany with a 4-2 victory. Conditions were bitter and rainy but that didn’t stop the comeback against a top Bundesliga first division team.
“This was our best game of the tour so far, in regards to the opponent. We played very well. It was encouraging that we came from behind and won,” head coach Mark Francis said. “We haven’t had to do that this spring so it showed good perseverance, especially having played four games in a row. We have been working all spring on the 5-3-2 formation, and with this being our fifth game this spring, I think it showed that everyone is starting to understand their roles. They are all clicking very well.”
Katie McClure opened the game with a wonderful far post shot with an assist from Kathryn Castro. Conceding two goals off of crosses, the table was set for an epic comeback. Grace Hagan took the team on her back and scored a great 1-v-1 goal at the far post. Coming out of halftime, the Hawks were on their heels for about 10 minutes but weathered the storm. Elise Reina had a wonderful block shot off of a set piece to keep the game tied. Taylor Christie tallied her third goal of the tour and put in the game winner. Hannah Lukinac and Lois Heuchan hooked up again for the fourth goal off of a corner kick, sealing the game. The Jayhawk have scored 16 goals and have only conceded two in their last four games. We will play one more match tomorrow night to wrap up the European tour.

POST #2 / March 19 / Brussels, Belgium

Exploring Brussels and Leaving with a “W”

The second full day for KU Soccer was an eventful one. With a free morning to explore the Belgium capital of Brussels we embarked in many fun adventures. The Grand Plaza was a sight to see with the wonderful architecture that surrounded us 360 degrees.
 The Grand Square in Brussels.
In the evening it was time for our first game of the trip, a match against AALST, one of the top club teams in Belgium. It was a brisk one to say the least. Minus the chill in the air, the Jayhawks were victorious. 4-0 was the final score line. Grace Hagan opened the score sheet with a great finish off of a cross by Chais Wright and a brilliant dummie touch by Katie McClure. The Hawks overcame some “new” offside rules and had a very productive second half. With three goals, one from McClure and one each from the senior duo Hannah Lukinac and Lois Heuchan.

“It was a good reflection on the things we have been working on in training for the last several weeks,” coach Francis said after the match. “A lot of the elements we have focused on came out in the game. After playing our first spring game and not scoring, it was great to get our attacking players on the score sheet. A very positive start to the European tour.”

The Jayhawks are looking forward to four more match ups this week!

Alex Schweitzer / Junior / Defender / Tampa, Florida
“What did you do today?”
-We went to the Grand Plaza and went inside St. Michael’s Cathedral. It was beautiful. The organs were huge on the walls and the wood ceilings were a sight. We saw a man made out of chocolate and Easter eggs the size of humans.”

 KU claimed the 4-0 win over AALST.What’s been your favorite part so far?
-The horse carriage ride in Brugge. The tour of the Church of our Lady and seeing the Michelangelo sculpture. It was totally silent and you just got to sit there and stare at this amazing sculpture. We got to sit there and admire it without interruption for about 10 minutes.

What is your favorite food so far?
-Belgian waffle with strawberries and dark chocolate drizzle.

Thoughts on the game?
-First thing, the opponent was definitely faster than we thought. They played one and two touch really well. We really did well in the attacking third in the second half by weighting our passes properly. The back three did an excellent job communicating and solidifying the shutout.


POST #1 / March 17-18 / Brugge, Belgium

Clogs, Cheese, Moats and Waffles

Checking out some local architecture
We have all been excited about this trip and the first few days have surpassed all expectations. The flight was less than thrilling but well worth it! Our first stop was a clog and cheese farm. None of us had any idea what we were getting ourselves into. Our gracious host had a spunky personality and taught us a lot. Who would have thought that cheese covered in wax could last up to 10 years? The garlic infused gouda was to die far and a popular favorite among the group. What better way to pair cheese than…. with clogs. These wooden comforts were a piece of art. This intrinsic shoe only took about three minutes to make thanks to the industrial revolution but the hand painted art took just a tad bit longer. Not sure I believe that you they keep your feet warm in any condition, but I am also not willing to put them to the test.
Then we continued our adventure with a three hour bus drive to Bruga (or Brugge for us English-speaking folk). This place is magical. The construction and architecture is something we do not get to see in The States. Brick everywhere with wonderful accents. I must say I am particularly fascinated with all of the different doors. We are told not to judge a book by it’s cover, but I am all about judging a building by it’s door. We learned that “Bruga” has never been captured by a different country because of it’s real life moat and strong wall. (Yes, a moat!) It’s not fictional and the canals all over are a sight. If it weren’t for the cold weather, we would be getting a boat to explore. One of the few pieces of Michelangelo’s art that is outside of Italy is housed in the Church of Our Lady. Breathtaking, magnificent, beautiful, to be honest, no adjective will be enough to describe the work this man created. It feels as if you are in the presence of something not of this world. Brugge is known well for their chocolate and lace. It’s not an exaggeration when I say every other storefront is a chocolate shop. There is no limit to the shapes that are molded into chocolate so feel free to let your imagination wonder with that one.

 Grace Hagan / Junior / Forward / Wichita, Kansas
“After a night spent on the airplane, of course filled with quality movies and unusually delicious meal trays, the team had the chance to tour a cheese and clog farm. Our animated guide taught us about what it’s like to run a business in Amsterdam, where the only goal is to make a living and love what you do. Cheese, cheese, cheese…andTraining session No. 1clogs. A pair of Netherland traditions filled the wood-vaulted gift shop from top to bottom. It seemed to be an employee requirement to be able to crack a joke with any customer, as each of us found ourselves laughing at some point in the tour. We left our new clog-wearing pals with cheese-filled bellies, ready to crash on our three hour bus ride to Brugge.

Burndt, our “old man trapped in a young guy’s body” German tour guide, shed some light on this quaint city as we crossed the moat that prevented it from being demolished in WWII. Our bus squeezed itself down the cobble stone street, each of us ooo-ing and awe-ing at every cute cottage-styled building and chocolate shop that we saw. We checked into our hotel, getting nice and cozy in our rooms that used to inhabit nuns in the monastery. After freshening up for dinner, we devoured a buffet at the hotel and set off for the town to walk off some jet lag, and maybe some bread rolls (lol). You see, us gals like to eat. So it took no time at all to find a good Belgian waffle. Nothing a lattice piece of dough with ice cream on top can’t solve, am I right? Topping off the night with a skip through the quiet streets of this ancient city sent us to bed with frost-bit noses and happy hearts, knowing that we still have a week of adventure left ahead of us.”