Jayhawks Unveil 2015 Soccer Schedule
|2015 Kansas Socceer Schedule|
|Aug. 12||Drake (Exh.)||7 p.m.|
|Aug. 16||North Dakota St. (Exh.)||1 p.m.|
|Aug. 21||at Nebraska||7 p.m.|
|Aug. 23||at Minnesota||2 p.m.|
|Aug. 28||at SMU||7 p.m.|
|Aug. 30||at North Texas||1 p.m.|
|Sept. 4||Santa Clara||5 p.m.|
|Sept. 6||Oregon State||7 p.m.|
|Sept. 11||at Wyoming||8 p.m.|
|Sept. 13||at Colorado College||1 p.m.|
|Sept. 18||at Arkansas||7 p.m.|
|Sept. 25||South Dakota St.||7 p.m.|
|Oct. 2||Texas*||7 p.m.|
|Oct. 4||at Iowa State*||1 p.m.|
|Oct. 9||Baylor*||7 p.m.|
|Oct. 11||Oklahoma*||1 p.m.|
|Oct. 16||at West Virginia*||6 p.m.|
|Oct. 23||at Texas Tech*||7 p.m.|
at Oklahoma State*
|Oct. 30||TCU*||7 p.m.|
|Nov. 4-8||Big 12 Championship||TBA|
Home Games in BOLD
LAWRENCE, Kan. – In 2014, the Kansas soccer team made its mark with one of the best seasons in the 20-year history of the program. The Jayhawks began the year with a program-record eight-straight wins. Their 15 victories were the third most in school history. They earned a bid to their sixth NCAA Tournament and featured three All-Big 12 First Team selections. After the season head coach Mark Francis made it clear the successes enjoyed in 2014 would be only the minimum of what he expects from the program moving forward. With expectations now at an all-time high, it is time to begin the next chapter of Kansas soccer with the release of the 2015 schedule.
“I think we’ve got a good, but a tough, schedule this year,” said Francis. “We’ve got some good opportunities to get some big wins in the non-conference part of the schedule that could help us going into the conference season just like we did last season. That can set us up for a good season and help our RPI to get a (NCAA) bid at the end of the year, because that is our main goal, to still be playing at the end of the year.”
Playing in its new, state-of-the-art facility at Rock Chalk Park for the first time last year, Kansas smashed its single-season attendance record and twice broke the school’s single-game attendance mark. Tickets for the 2015 Kansas soccer season will go on sale June 15. Fans can purchase tickets by going to KUAthletics.com and accessing the Tickets tab or by calling the ticket office at 800.34.HAWKS.
For the first time in several years, the Jayhawks have added an extra exhibition match prior to the start of the regular season. Both friendlies will be held in Lawrence at Rock Chalk Park the week prior to Kansas’ first regular-season match. Kansas will first welcome in the Drake Bulldogs on Aug. 12 for a match at 7 p.m. Four days later, North Dakota State will hit the pitch at Rock Chalk Park for Kansas’ final tune-up match. The Jayhawks and Bison will kick off on Aug. 16 at 1 p.m. Both of KU’s exhibition opponents finished among the top-four in their conference standings a year ago.
“Even though they are exhibitions, that first home weekend will be a big weekend for us,” said Francis. “It will be key to have lot of people out to those games at the beginning of the year to continue to establish Rock Chalk Park as a great home venue. That will be important for us throughout the season.”
The Kansas coaches have once again constructed a non-conference schedule that is sure to challenge their team over the first five weeks of the season. All but three of the Jayhawks’ out-of-conference opponents ended their 2014 campaigns outside the top-125 of the final RPI ratings and include four teams that were among the top-75 at season’s end. The difficulty of KU’s non-conference schedule will be dialed up a notch as Kansas will play seven of its first 10 matches away from home.
“Last year I thought we performed really well on the road so I’m not worried about that,” Francis said. “Obviously the kids will need to manage missing school and be prepared for all the time they’re going to be away but I think we have enough veterans on the team that playing away from home won’t affect us.”
Kansas will kick off the year on the road with matches against a pair of Big Ten squads. The Jayhawks will open the year against former Big 12-foe Nebraska on Aug. 21 at 7 p.m., in Lincoln. The Cornhuskers are one year removed from a conference title and have won 10 or more games in six of the last 10 seasons. The Jayhawks will then journey north for an Aug. 23 date with Minnesota in Minneapolis. Kansas and Minnesota haven’t met since 1995, when the Golden Gophers came out on top with a 5-1 victory. Kickoff from Robbie Stadium is set for 2 p.m.
The following weekend a Texas swing will be on tap with Kansas journeying to the Dallas area. On Aug. 28 the SMU Mustangs will host the Jayhawks for a 7 p.m., match. The two squads met in Lawrence last season, with Kansas pulling out a decisive 3-0 win. North Texas will be on the docket next on Aug. 30 in Denton, Texas. The Mean Green are the reigning Conference USA regular-season and tournament champions and are coming off a program-record 16-win season in 2014. UNT is not an easy team to defeat in Denton with the Mean Green only losing 25 times on their home field in the 20-year history of the program.
After four-straight games on the road to start the season, Sept. 4 will serve as Kansas’ highly anticipated regular-season home opener against the Santa Clara Broncos. SCU has established itself as one of the top programs in the collegiate ranks with eight NCAA Tournament appearances in the last 10 years. The Jayhawks and Broncos will hit the Rock Chalk Park pitch for a 5 p.m., match to be televised on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel and ESPN3.
KU will close out Labor Day weekend against the Pac-12’s Oregon State Beavers. The Sunday night (Sept. 6) bout is slated to begin at 7 p.m., and will also be broadcast on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel and ESPN3.
“It’s good for us to have games against teams like Santa Clara and Pac 12 teams because it really helps out our RPI,” explained Francis. “I’ve tried to get a mix of games against teams both from the bigger conferences and the mid-major conferences, which I think can benefit our team when it comes to an NCAA Tournament selection.”
Kansas will hit the road the following weekend, this time to the high altitude of the Rocky Mountains. At 8 p.m. (CT) on Sept. 11, Kansas will meet up with Wyoming in Laramie, Wyoming. The Jayhawks topped the Cowgirls, 3-1, in their season-opener in Lawrence last season. Two days later, Kansas will lace up the cleats in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to take on the Tigers of Colorado College. The Tigers should pose a challenge as the team hasn’t won fewer than 12 games in three-straight seasons and has two conference championships in that same span. Kansas and Colorado College will kick off at 1 p.m. (CT) from Stewart Field.
On paper, the toughest opponent on KU’s 2015 non-conference slate will await the Jayhawks the following weekend. The Arkansas Razorbacks will play host to the Jayhawks on Sept. 18 in Fayetteville. Arkansas ended its 2015 season among the top-50 of the RPI rankings and an NCAA Tournament berth. KU and UA who will be meeting for the third time in five seasons, are scheduled for a 7 p.m., kickoff.
Kansas will close out the non-conference schedule the following weekend on Sept. 25 at 7 p.m., against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. The Jayhawks have dispatched of the Jacks in all of their three series meetings, each of which has come in the last six seasons.
“We’re playing a Pac-12 team, an SEC team, a couple Big Ten teams and some really good mid-major programs, so we’ve got some definite tests against teams from good conferences,” said Francis. “I feel that will help us get ready for our conference schedule.”
The Big 12 Conference schedule again appears to be a gauntlet that will provide the Jayhawks with a challenge in all eight outings. The league has elevated itself to among the top soccer conferences in the nation, finishing with the NCAA’s second-highest RPI ranking in 2014 and sending six of its nine teams to the NCAA Tournament.
“The Big 12 is always tough,” said Francis. “It’s important to get results in your home games because winning on the road in this league is always hard. Obviously with three home games in the first four conference games it will be really important for us to get out to a good start in the league this year.”
The Jayhawks will open conference play at 7 p.m., on Oct. 2 in Lawrence when they welcome the Texas Longhorns to Rock Chalk Park for the first time. UT will no doubt be looking for revenge after Kansas upended Texas last season in Austin for the first time in a thrilling 1-0 KU win. After the Friday-night bout with the Longhorns, KU will hit the road to Ames, Iowa to meet up with the Iowa State Cyclones on Oct. 4. The Jayhawks have come out on top in seven of their last eight meetings against ISU.
Back-to-back home matches await the Jayhawks the following weekend with Baylor and Oklahoma heading to Lawrence. On Oct. 9 the Baylor Bears, who were one of eight Big 12 squads to finish the year among the to-75 of the RPI, will go up against KU at Rock Chalk Park in a 7 p.m., start. Two days later, Kansas and Oklahoma will renew what has become one of the league’s top rivalries. All but one of the last 10 KU-OU matches have been decided by one goal or fewer. The Jayhawks will be anxious for a rematch with the Sooners after OU tallied two wins over KU just five days apart in the final game of the regular season and in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Championship last year.
KU will begin then begin a three-game road stretch against three NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago, beginning with the defending Big 12 Champion West Virginia. The Jayhawks will try for their first win over West Virginia on Oct. 16 in the 6 p.m. (CT) match inside Dick Dlesk Stadium.
“I was happy to see that the West Virginia game is our only game that weekend,” said Francis. “It’s always tough when you play them, but it helps a little when you don’t have to worry as much about limiting minutes for your players because they have a game two days later. Hopefully we can go in there and get a good result this year.”
Kansas will trek to the Lone Star State for the second time in 2015 for an Oct. 23 date with Texas Tech. The Red Raiders have averaged 14 wins over their last five seasons. KU will try to pick up its first win over TTU in Lubbock since 2011 in the match slated to kickoff at 7 p.m. A match against the Oklahoma State Cowgirls will serve as Kansas’ final road game of the regular season on Oct. 25. The Jayhawks have defeated OSU in each of their last two outings in Lawrence; however, Kansas will try to post a victory in Stillwater for the first time since 2004.
The regular-season finale is set for Oct. 30 at 7 p.m., when the TCU Horned Frogs invade Lawrence. The match will serve as Senior Night for Jayhawks seniors Courtney Dickerson, Liana Salazar and Ashley Williams.
For the third-straight year, Swope Park Soccer Village will serve as the venue for the Big 12 Championship to be held Nov. 4-8 in Kansas City, Missouri. Kansas earned the No. 3 seed in the eight-team tournament last season, its highest seed since 2007.
“I’m excited for this season,” concluded Francis. “We have players at every position coming back that have experience and we have seven new freshmen coming in that will have a chance of making an immediate impact. I’m excited to see what this team can do.”
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