KU Soccer Takes Part in Media Day

Jayhawks soccer players, Liana Salzar (standing), Tayler Estrada (right) and Kayla Morrison (left) talked with members of the media Wednesday afternoon during Fall Sport Media Day.LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas head soccer coach Mark Francis discussed his 2015 squad at length during the fall sport media, which combined the Kansas volleyball, cross country and soccer programs. Francis discussed all aspects of the team that returns seven starters and adds eight freshman this season. Following opening statements and a question and answer session for the coach, now in his 17th season at the help at KU, the solid media turnout broke into groups across the room to interview student-athletes.
Kansas head soccer coach Mark Francis
Opening Statement
“This year we return seven starters and graduated four. We also have eight freshmen that have come in. All of them were here for the entire or at least part of the summer, which was a huge benefit to us. Our administration helps us out financially so we can get those players here for school and also to train for the season. For the fall sports, it’s really difficult. We started preseason Aug. 6 and we had our first exhibition game on Aug. 12. We had an unbelievable spring and we made all kinds of progress but April 30 rolled around and we reported Aug. 6, so you don’t have to be too smart to figure out that there are a few months in there where we don’t get to see them. A lot of the emphasis is put back on the players to come back prepared. Our strength coach, Luke Bradford, does a great job in the summer with our players. Most of our players made the commitment and were here all summer and I think that has really showed during our preseason in terms of our fitness.
“We’re playing a little different system than we have in the past few seasons for a bunch of reasons. Obviously, we’re going to try and get our best players on the field. We want to make sure we have cover in certain positions, especially for the positions that have the most running in the game. So preseason was really about just getting everyone on the same page because it was different for everyone. The kids have really done a great job with it and picked up on it. I think they’re enjoying it. I think you’re going to see a lot more offense than we did last year, just in terms of the setup of the formation.
“In the back, we graduated our starting goalkeeper and one of our starting center-backs, which are obviously two big holes to fill. The goalkeeping situation has been great. If Coach (Kelly) Miller were here, he would tell you that, collectively, this is the best group of goalkeepers we’ve had since I’ve been here. It’s a daily conversation as to who’s going to be the starter. We still haven’t really decided that yet but I think it’s good for our team; to have that much competition at the goalkeeper spot. That will make them better each day in terms of pushing each other.”
On if the coaching staff has settled on a starting goalkeeper:
“As we’ve told the goalkeepers, it will never be set in stone. If whoever starts Friday makes one mistake, we’re not going to switch the kid out, but they need know that there are two other keepers that are more than capable of taking their spot. So we’ll sit down and talk about it as a staff and get it figured out but if you asked our kids, I know they’d tell you that all three have performed well so far. It’s a good problem to have but we’ll definitely settle a little more on it by Friday and after that, I really think it will be week-to-week.”  
On how the newcomers have adapted to the new team:
“The new guys have picked up what we’re trying to do very quickly. To be honest, I’m surprised with how in sync the group is already. I’m surprised for where we’re at after just two weeks.”
On the new offensive system and how it is tailored to senior midfielder Liana Salazar:
“Liana (Salazar) had a great season last year and we expect her to have another great one this year. Our system this year is going to allow her a lot of freedom and opportunity to attack and get into the attack, but from a deeper position. That was one of the things we had to look at. When you have an offensively-gifted player like that, you want to make sure she’s getting the freedom that she needs to be productive. We have other personnel that we want to form our attack around as well. Parker Roberts is a very talented offensive player. We moved Tayler Estrada forward a little bit from where she was playing last year and I think she can definitely be a threat going forward, too.”