Kansas returns 15 letterwinners and seven starters from last season’s NCAA Tournament team.
|Exhibition: Kansas vs. Drake
||Rock Chalk Park (2,500)
||KU leads, 2-0-0
||Jayhawk Radio Network
|2014 Stats at a Glance
|Shot on Goal %
TICKETS | GAME NOTES
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The 2015 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 Drake Bulldogs on Wednesday, Aug. 12. The match will take place at Rock Chalk Park with kickoff slated for 7 p.m.
ABOUT THE JAYHAWKS
The Kansas Jayhawks return 15 letterwinners and seven starters from the 2014 squad which went 15-6-0, finished third in the Big 12 and appeared in the program’s sixth NCAA Tournament last season. Mark Francis is entering his 17th season at the helm in Lawrence and holds a 178-133-22 record with the Jayhawks after picking up his 200th career coaching victory last season.
Senior midfielder Liana Salazar returns after leading the Jayhawks in scoring last year with 13 goals, four assists and 30 points. The Bogotá, Colombia native is one of 28 players to be named to the preseason watch list for the MAC Hermann Trophy, collegiate soccer’s most prestigious award. Striker Ashley Williams was the Jayhawks’ second-leading scorer in 2014 with seven goals and also returns for her final season at KU. As an offense, Kansas returns 11 of the 14 players who contributed at least one goal or an assist in 2014.
The KU defense was one of the best in the nation last season, allowing just 17 goals and boasting a 0.80 goals-against average, the third-lowest in program history. The Jayhawks will look to fill the void left by outgoing senior goalkeeper Kaitlyn Stroud, who had 64 starts in goal, a career goals-against average of 1.21 and 281 career saves. Kansas will carry three keepers on the 2015 rosters and all seem fit to fill Stroud’s shoes; sophomore Maddie Dobyns, who has two starts in goal for KU, redshirt freshman Lauren Breshears and true freshman Regan Gibbs.
ABOUT THE BULLDOGS
The Drake Bulldogs enter 2015 after finishing with a 9-9-2 record last season and claiming third in the Missouri Valley Conference. Drake, which is led by former Jayhawk Lindsay Horner, has already played one exhibition, earning a 1-0 win over Western Illinois on Aug. 9 in Macomb, Ill.
Last season, the Bulldogs scored 30 goals which included 12 in their final six matches. Drake notched 12 shots per game and put over 50 percent of those on frame. Junior forward Rebecca Rogers returns after she led the squad with 12 goals and eight assists on the year. Five other Bulldogs scored multiple goals in 2014, four of which are back on this season’s squad.
The Drake defense allowed 30 opponent goals in 2014, which included 12 against Missouri Valley opponents. The Bulldogs tallied five shutouts in 2014 and held opponents to one goal in five additional outings. Bulldog opponents posted just over 16 shots per match, including nearly eight shots on goal per game. Sophomore Haley Morris is the only returning goalkeeper and saw time in three matches last season between the posts for Drake. In those matches she amassed eight saves, stopped 67 percent of the shots put on goal and tallied one shutout.
Lindsay Horner, who played at Kansas from 1997-2000, is starting her seventh season as the head coach at Drake. Horner has guided the Bulldogs to a 46-53-19 record during her time in Des Moines. Horner was the Bulldogs’ top assistant from 2003-08. During her tenure, the Bulldogs have won four MVC Conference regular-season championships and competed in the 2006 NCAA Tournament.
Kansas returns seven players from last year’s team that started at least 15 games, which finished the season at 15-6-0. Included in the nine returning starters are three of the team’s top-four scorers from a year ago.
Seniors Liana Salazar (13 goals, four assists) and Ashley Williams (seven goals, three assists) lead the way, while sophomore Lois Heuchan (three goals) is also back. Kansas also returns an experienced midfield and back line with the return of juniors Tayler Estrada, Hanna Kallmaier, Jackie Georgoulis, Kaley Smith, Morgan Williams and sophomore Kayla Morrison.
Kansas will try to continue its streak of solid preseason tune-ups when it welcomes in the Drake Bulldogs Wednesday. KU has won three-straight preseason exhibition matches and boasts a record of 5-2-1 in preseason friendlies since 2004. KU and Drake are not unfamiliar with each other as the two squads have met three times since 2004 in exhibition play. The Jayhawks and Bulldogs last met prior to opening the 2008 season, with Kansas coming out on top, 3-0. Last year, KU took on the Jackrabbits of South Dakota State, and dispatched of the Jackrabbits, also be a final of 3-0. Kansas will take on SDSU again this year, but in the regular season. That match is set for Sept. 25 at Rock Chalk Park.
Wednesday’s contest could feature as many as eight newcomers to the Kansas lineup. KU has eight true freshmen incoming this season, including All-American and U20 US National Team veteran, midfielder Parker Roberts. Other freshmen looking to make big impressions in their first outings in the Crimson and Blue are goalkeeper Regan Gibbs, forward Bailey Bravard, midfielders Anna Courtney, Taylor Chaffetz and Grace Hagan and defenders Lindsay Sammis and Taylor Christie.
SALAZAR ALREADY MAKING HEADLINES
Senior midfielder Liana Salazar is already getting national recognition as a player who is expected to have a big year in 2015. She was one of 28 women in Division I NCAA soccer to be selected to the Watch List for the Missouri Athletic Club’s (MAC) Hermann Trophy, considered the most prestigious award in collegiate soccer and was also named to the TopDrawerSoccer.com “Best XI” First Team.
Salazar, who hails from Bogotá, Colombia, will enter this season coming off a stellar junior campaign in 2014. An honoree on the NSCAA All-American Third Team, Salazar scored a team-high 13 goals and added four assists to combine for 30 total points on the year, the second-most in the Big 12 Conference. She was picked unanimously by the league’s coaches to the All-Big 12 First Team and was also added to the NSCAA’s All-Central Region First Team. Salazar added four game-winning goals on the year and helped the Jayhawks to their best record in a decade, finishing 15-6-0 and helping Kansas make the program’s sixth NCAA Tournament appearance.
Salazar is just five goals shy from moving to No. 2 on Kansas’ all-time goal scorers list with 21. She also is ranked among the top-10 Jayhawks all-time in points, game-winning goals, shots and shots on goal.
RECORD BOOK WATCH
With the 2015 regular season looming, it’s never too early to glance at the Kansas soccer record book to see where current Jayhawks stand. Senior midfielder Liana Salazar finds herself among the Jayhawk elite when comparing her career numbers. She currently sits seventh on the all-time goal-scoring chart with 21, but needs just five more to tie Caroline Kastor and Rachel Gilfillan for No. 2 on the list. Caroline Smith is the school’s all-time leading goal scorer with 51. Salazar is also ninth on the all-time points chart as she has amassed 50 points in 62 appearances for the Jayhawks. That mark is 28 points behind Whitney Berry, who is second on the list and 76 points behind the record-holder, Caroline Smith, who tallied an impressive 126 points during her days in Lawrence.
Senior Ashley Williams is also ripe to move up some impressive charts during her last season in the Crimson and Blue. Williams is ninth on KU’s goal-scoring list with 17 career goals and is at No. 5 with seven game-winning goals. If she can match or exceed her total of four from last season, that will put her at No. 2 on KU’s list.
JUST ONE WILL DO IT
The 2015 Jayhawks will hopefully 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 40 matches. The Jayhawks’ record in those matches: 32-5-3. Kansas was won or drawn all but five matches in which they have scored, which included a 15-2-0 record in those instances last season.
The one goal trend has obviously proven fruitful for Kansas last season as, until KU’s Oct. 19 loss to West Virginia, the Jayhawks held their opponents to one goal or less in each of their first 16 matches of the year. That 16-match streak was the second-longest in program history and is only topped by the 2003 and 2004 squads, which combined to hold 29-straight opponents to one goal or fewer from Oct. 19, 2003- Nov. 3, 2004.
TURNING THINGS AROUND
The 2015 Jayhawks will look to bring the same mentality from the 2014 Jayhawk squad, which achieved one of the best turnarounds in program history. In 2013, Kansas won seven games and tied twice, while the 2014 team picked up eight more victories. This mark is the program’s best turnaround which formerly belonged to the 2003 squad that also won seven more games than the year prior.
Head coach Mark Francis is no stranger to monumental turnarounds. After a 2-17 season during first season at South Alabama, Francis led the Jaguars to an 18-3-1 mark during the 1997 season. The 16-win turnaround is still the biggest in NCAA Division I soccer history.
FIRST TO SCORE, WINS GALORE
Over its past 61 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 60-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 32-1-2 in those games, which included a 15-0-0 mark last year.
On the flip side, KU hasn’t been quite as fortunate when its opponents have gotten on the board first. Kansas has not won a game in that same 60-game span when finding itself trailing 1-0 at any point in a match. The Jayhawks are 0-24-1 in those games over the last two years, including an 0-6-0 mark in 2015.
LET’S GET DEFENSIVE
While the Jayhawk offense was as potent as the program has seen in some time last year, the defense was just as impressive. With eight shutouts on the year, Kansas boasted a goals-against average of 0.80, the lowest in the Big 12 and the 19th-best mark in the nation. The Jayhawks allowed just 17 goals on the year and no more than one opponent goal in all but three matches. KU went 298 minutes without conceding a goal from Sept. 5-19, the 11th-longest streak in school history, and also wrapped up a 360-minute long streak, which ranks fifth in school history.
Kansas opponents’ lack of goal scoring may be attributed to the Jayhawks’ ability to keep the opposing team’s shot percentage low. Of the 241 shots KU allowed last season, opponents put just over 41 percent of those on target and only got 17 percent of those shots on frame past goalkeeper, Kaitlyn Stroud, and into the back of the net.
KU will get its final tune-up for the 2015 regular season when the Jayhawks welcome in the North Dakota State Bison for their second exhibition match on Sunday, Aug. 16. The Jayhawks and Bison will hit the pitch at Rock Chalk Park for a 1 p.m., kickoff. Later in the week, Kansas will open up its regular season against former Big 12 foe, Nebraska, on Aug. 21. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m., in Lincoln.
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