Jayhawks Ready for Preseason Tune-up with Jackrabbits
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas soccer will play its first and only exhibition match of the 2014 season when it takes on the South Dakota State Jackrabbits on Friday, Aug. 15 at the Jayhawk Soccer Complex. The Jayhawks will hit the pitch for kickoff at 5 p.m. Admission is free to the public.
Follow the Jayhawks
Throughout the 2014 season fans will be able to listen to all 19 of the Jayhawks’ regular-season matches via a free online radio broadcast. The KU-SDSU match will be available by visiting KUAthletics.com and clicking on “Listen” next to the game on the soccer schedule page. Nick Dodson will be on the call for the KU-SDSU match and will be joined by Derek Johnson throughout the regular season.
KU fans can also get live updates by logging on to KU soccer’s live stats to get up-to-the-minute stats from every Jayhawk match. Just log on to www.sidearmstats.com/kansas/wsoc during every home game and enjoy. Don’t forget to follow on Twitter at @KUWSoccer for another great way to follow KU Soccer.
The Jayhawks and Jackrabbits have become quite familiar with each other over the past five years, meeting three times in regular-season play and a handful more times during the spring exhibition season. Kansas holds the regular-season advantage at 3-0-0 over the Jackrabbits, which includes a 2-1 KU win last season over SDSU in Brookings. KU is 6-2-0 against members of the Summit League, outscoring the conference 17-5 in eight games played against its members.
About the Jayhawks
The Kansas soccer team returns 16 letterwinners and nearly 70 percent of its scoring from the 2013 squad that finished 7-11-2 overall and 2-5-1 in conference play. Mark Francis enters his 16th season as the Jayhawks’ head coach and is just four wins shy of his 200th career coaching victory. Junior midfielder Liana Salazar returns after a solid sophomore campaign that saw her earn All-Big 12 First Team honors. The Jayhawks will boast an experienced core as the team returns nine of its 11 starters from a year ago including seniors Jamie Fletcher and Caroline Van Slambrouck, junior Ashley Williams as well as sophomores Tayler Estrada and Aurélie Gagnet, who was tabbed to the Big 12’s All-Newcomer Team after her first season in Lawrence.
The Jayhawks will also have another large injection of new faces this season, with eight true freshmen set to make their debuts in the Crimson and Blue. The impressive class includes a pair of internationals in Scotland native Lois Heuchan as well as Germany’s Eli Mayr plus several others whom the coaches expect to contribute early and often to this year’s squad.
Scouting the Jackrabbits
South Dakota State enters 2014 looking build upon an 11-5-2 record in 2013, the squad’s fifth 11-plus win season over the last six years. The Mavericks return 18 letterwinners and eight starters from last year when they finished second in the Summit League with a 6-1-0 record.
SDSU averaged 1.39 goals per game last season and posted nearly 15 shots per contest. Junior midfielder Alyssa Brazil is the team’s top returning scorer after tallying six goals and two assists in 2013.
The Jackrabbit defense held opponents to 0.78 goals per game in 2013 and allowed less than nine shots per match. Sophomore goalkeeper Nicole Inskeep started all 18 of SDSU’s matches, posted a 0.75 goals against average and a .818 save percentage.
Lang Wedemeyer is in his 15th year as the head coach of the South Dakota State women’s soccer program. He enters the season with a career coaching record of 129-102-30, all of which have come with the Jackrabbits.
Francis Nearing 200 Career Wins
Head coach Mark Francis needs just four victories this season to reach 200 for his collegiate head coaching career. Since taking the reins of South Alabama in 1996 and moving to Kansas in 1999, Francis has won nearly 11 games per season which includes eight 11-plus win seasons. He has coached Kansas to five NCAA Tournament appearances, the program’s first conference title in 2004 and has seen 49 Jayhawks named to the Big 12 All-Conference squads. His 196 career wins are second-most among active Big 12 coaches.
Jayhawk Picked Sixth in Preseason Poll
Kansas soccer was predicted to finish sixth in the league in 2014 after the Big 12 preseason coaches’ poll was released Aug. 13. The ranking marks the 10th time in the 15-year history of the preseason vote that KU has been picked to finish among the top-six teams in the conference.
Two-time defending league champion West Virginia was the unanimous choice to win the conference, receiving eight first-place votes and 64 points overall, followed by Texas Tech (56), Oklahoma State (49), Baylor (40), Texas (39), Kansas (25), TCU (21) and Iowa State (16) and Oklahoma (14).
Kansas returns nine players from last year’s team that started at least 13 games, which finished the season at 7-11-2. Included in the nine returning starters are four of the team’s top five scorers from a year ago.
Midfielders Liana Salazar (3 goals, 9 points) and Jamie Fletcher (3 goals, 9 points) lead the way, while junior forwards Ashley Williams (two goals) and Courtney Dickerson (two goals, two assists) are also back. Kansas also returns an experienced midfield and back line with the return of seniors Caroline Van Slambrouck and Haley Yearout as well as sophomore Tayler Estrada.
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.
Friday’s contest could feature as many as eight newcomers to the Kansas lineup. KU has eight true freshmen incoming this season, including international additions in Scotland native Lois Heuchan and Germany’s Eli Mayr. Other freshman looking to make big impressions in their first outings in the Crimson and Blue are goalkeeper Lauren Breshears, midfielders Hannah Lukinac Miriam Melugin and Jordan Nelmark and defenders Kayla Morrison and Katie Rostamo.
Record Book Watch
With the 2014 regular season looming, it’s never too early to glance at the Kansas soccer record book to see where current Jayhawks stand. Senior goalkeeper Kaitlyn Stroud finds herself among the Jayhawk elite when comparing her career numbers. She currently sits fifth on the all-time saves chart with 209, just 19 behind Kat Liebetrau and Julie Hanley, who are tied for third. Stroud is also fourth on the all-time goals-against-average chart as she sports a 1.42 GAA in 3,860 minutes between the posts for the Jayhawks. That mark is just .07 goals behind Colleen Quinn and .1 goals behind Julie Hanley, who is No. 2 on the list.
Senior Jamie Fletcher is also ripe to move up the shot and shot-on-goal charts during her last season in Lawrence. Fletcher has amassed 167 shots during three season, which sees her at fifth all-time. If she can keep up her average of just under 60 shots per season, she could climb to as high has third on the program’s shot chart.
KU will open the 2014 regular season on Friday, Aug. 22 with its inaugural match in the Jayhawks’ new home facility, Rock Chalk Park. Kansas will kickoff at 7 p.m., against the Wyoming Cowgirls. The Jayhawks will be in action again two days later, also at Rock Chalk Park, against the SMU Mustangs on Sunday, Aug. 24. KU will hit the pitch for a 1 p.m. start.
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