No. 23 Jayhawks Set to Open 2015 Season at Nebraska

The Jayhawks will kick off their 2015 campaign this Friday night against their former Big 12 foe, Nebraska.

GM 1: Kansas at Nebraska
Time 7 p.m.
Location Lincoln, Neb.
Stadium Barbara Hibner Field (2,500)
Series Nebraska leads, 15-3-2
Radio Jayhawk Radio Network
Live Stats
Webcast ($)
NOTES Kansas
2014 Stats at a Glance KU NU
Record 15-6-0 8-9-2
Goals/GM 1.67 1.63
Shots/GM 13.6 12.5
Shot % .123 .130
Shot on Goal % .407 .487
Goals Allowed/GM 0.81 1.74
Saves/GM 4.0 3.1
Save % .832 .641
Fouls/GM 10.0 4.2
Yellows/Reds 14/1 4/0

LAWRENCE, Kan. – A familiar foe will kick off the 2015 campaign for the No. 23 Kansas soccer team as the Jayhawks will meet former Big 12 opponent Nebraska on Aug. 21 in Lincoln. Kansas, which returns seven starters from last season’s 15-win NCAA Tournament squad, will go up against the Cornhuskers for the first time since 2010. Kickoff from NU’s new home for soccer, Barbara Hibner Field, is set 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 Cornhuskers
The Nebraska Cornhuskers enter 2015 coming off a 2014 campaign in which they amassed an 8-9-2 record and tied for eighth in the Big Ten Conference. NU played a pair of exhibitions last week, earning a 2-0 win over South Dakota State on Aug. 12 and taking a 6-2 victory over South Dakota on Aug. 14.
Last season, the Cornhuskers scored 31 goals which included 17 in their 13 matches against Big Ten foes. NU notched just over 12 shots per game and put 48 percent of those on frame. Junior midfielder Jaycie Johnson returns after she led the squad with 11 goals and 25 points on the year. Seven starters return for this season’s Cornhusker squad, three of whom tallied double-digit goals and assists.
The NU defense allowed 33 opponent goals in 2014, and notched five shutouts. The Cornhusker held opponents to one goal in three additional outings but saw their opponents tally three goals in eight matches. Their opponents posted just over 10 shots per match, including six shots on goal per game. Sophomore Erika Johnson saw action in two matches as a freshman last season, playing a total of 57 minutes between the posts.
John Walker is starting his 22nd season as the head coach at Nebraska. Walker has guided the Cornhuskers to a 290-133-27 record during his time in Lincoln. During his time at the helm he has led his squad to 11 NCAA Tournament appearances, two trips to the Elite Eight, six trips to the Sweet 16 and 10 conference championships, including Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles in 2013.
For Starters
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.
Jayhawks Picked Fourth in Big 12 Preseason Poll
Kansas soccer was predicted to finish fourth in the 2015 league standings according to the Big 12 preseason coaches’ poll which was released Aug. 12. The ranking marks the fourth time in the 16-year history of the preseason vote that KU has been picked to finish among the top-four teams in the conference.
Three-time defending league champion West Virginia was the coaches’ choice to win the conference, receiving eight seven-place votes and 63 points overall. The Mountaineers were followed by Texas Tech (55), Oklahoma State (46), Kansas (45), Oklahoma (38), Texas (28), TCU (22), Baylor (18) and Iowa State (9).
Last Time Out
A pair of goals off the foot of freshman Grace Hagan helped the No. 23 Kansas Jayhawks to a 2-2 draw in the exhibition match against the North Dakota State Bison inside Rock Chalk Park Aug. 16. Hagan’s brace marked the second by a KU freshman during the preseason after Parker Roberts also netted a pair against Drake on Aug. 12.
For the second time in as many games the Jayhawks got on the board in the opening 10 minutes. Hagan used her speed to dispossess an NDSU defender and quickly give herself a one-one-one situation with the Bison goalkeeper, Sierra Bonham. Hagan quickly evaded the final obstacle standing between her and the goal and sent in the easy finish to give Kansas the early 1-0 lead in the 10th minute. Hagan struck again just before halftime. After sprinting nearly 40 yards, Hagan beat Bonham one-on-one and sent in the go-ahead goal seconds before the halftime horn sounded.
Senior Gabby Arnquist brought the score level again 15 minutes into the second half and was in the right place at the right time when an NDSU corner kick made its way all the way to her location at the far post. She shot in the ball on from close range and brought the score even at 2-2.
The Jayhawks had several more looks at taking the lead for the third time throughout the remainder of the match, but none were more dangerous than when Hagan broke free in the 73rd minute. Looking for the hat trick, she again beat the last Bison defender and had a one-one-one situation with Bonham. She made a quick flick headed toward the inside of the far post, however Bonham made perhaps her most impressive and important stop of the day, redirecting Hagan’s attempt with her foot and thwarting another prime Jayhawk chance. Kansas ended the match with 33 total shots on the day, while the Bison managed 14 shots. Salazar led all players with nine shots, five of which were on target.
New Batch
Seven newcomers saw action in Kansas’ two exhibition games last week, three of which started at least one of those matches. 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 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 “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.
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.
Up Next
The Jayhawks will continue their Big Ten-themed weekend when they travel north for a collision with the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Sunday, Aug. 23. The Jayhawks and Golden Gophers will kick off in Minneapolis at 2 p.m. The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.