Jayhawks Look for Opening Weekend Sweep Versus SMU Sunday
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas soccer will attempt to move to 2-0 on the season as it welcomes in the SMU Mustangs on Sunday, Aug. 24. The Jayhawks, who defeated Wyoming 3-1 in the season-opener on Friday, will kickoff against the Mustangs at 1 p.m., inside the Jayhawk Soccer Complex.
OVER the AIRWAVES
Fans will be able to follow the Jayhawks in every match this year by listening to the free, live radio broadcast via leanStream on KUAthletics.com. To listen to Derek Johnson and Nick Dodson’s call, fans can go to the soccer schedule page at KUAthletics.com and click on the audio link next to the appropriate match.
About the Jayhawks
Kansas is coming off an impressive 3-1 win over Wyoming Friday night in Lawrence. The win marked the fifth opening day victory in the last seven years for KU.
The Jayhawks return 16 letterwinners and nearly 70 percent of their 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 three 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 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 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
About the Mustangs
SMU is coming off a 4-0 defeat at the hands of the 13th-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers on Friday, Aug. 22. The Mustangs got off to a slow start as the Cornhuskers led 3-0 in the 33rd minute. Nebraska outshot SMU, 10-1, in the first half. SMU enters 2014 after tallying a 9-9-1 record a year ago. The Mustangs return eight starters from last year when they placed eighth in the American Athletic Conference with a 3-5-1 record. SMU was picked to finish fifth in the league’s preseason poll.
SMU averaged 1.74 goals per game last season and posted 12.8 shots per contest. Senior forward Shelby Redman is the team’s top returning scorer after posting eight goals and 19 points in 2013.
The Mustang defense held opponents to 1.21 goals per game last season and allowed 11.1 shots per match. Senior goalkeeper Lauryn Bodden started 15 of her team’s 19 matches, posted a 1.09 goals against average and a .754 save percentage.
Chris Petucelli is in his third year as the head coach of the Mustang soccer program. He entered the season with a career coaching record of 358-128-41, after spending 2006-11 as the head coach of the Texas Longhorns prior to his tenure at SMU.
Kansas Opens Season, Rock Chalk Park with 3-1 Win
Junior Liana Salazar helped Kansas open the 2014 season and christen Rock Chalk Park in grand fashion with a bicycle kick goal less than 90 seconds into a 3-1 victory over Wyoming Friday night. Salazar, freshman Lois Heuchan and Ashley Williams all tallied scores in the win. The Jayhawks (1-0) nearly shutout the Cowgirls (0-1) before a late goal in the 87th minute by Wyoming’s Shelby Shorb.
Francis going up against Alma Mater Sunday
Kansas head coach Mark Francis holds a special place for the team his Jayhawks will go up against Sunday. The 18-year coaching veteran is a 1987 graduate of SMU and was a three-time All-American for the Mustangs’ men’s team. As a senior, he was named SMU’s Male Athlete of the Year, the Dallas All-Sports Association College Athlete of the Year and was selected to Soccer America’s All-College MVP Team. In addition, he was a two-time nominee for the Hermann Trophy, given to the nation’s most outstanding soccer player.
Jayhawk Picked sixth in Preseason Poll
Kansas soccer was predicted to finish sixth in the 2014 league standings according to the Big 12 preseason coaches’ poll which was released Aug. 13. The ranking marked 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, including All-Big 12 First Team Selection, Liana Salazar.
Salazar and senior Jamie Fletcher are the top offensive returners, while sophomore forwards Courtney Dickerson (two goals, two assists) and Ashley Williams (two goals, one assist), are also ready to contribute to the KU attack. The Jayhawks also have senior defender Caroline Van Slambrouck and sophomore Tayler Estrada back tallied the majority of the team’s minutes on the back line. KU also brings back 2013 Big 12 All-Newcomer honoree, sophomore Aurélie Gagnet, who started 13 of the 16 matches in which she was available.
Gagnet Playing in U20 World Cup
Sophomore Aurélie Gagnet started and played all 90 minutes of the French National Team’s 4-0 drubbing of New Zealand on Aug. 9 in the U20 Women’s World Cup. Gagnet helped her squad earn its second win in group play. Although she has not seen field time since, France moved through group play undefeated and advanced all the way through to semifinals and will play Germany on Wednesday, Aug. 20.
Gagnet, who earned her sixth-career start for her national team two weekends ago against New Zealand, played as the left-back defender and aided the squad to the shutout. One of her biggest contributions, other than her lockdown defense, occurred in the 83rd minute. Gagnet took the ball on a long run down the right side into the attacking third, where she then suffered a foul at the hands of a New Zealand defender. The foul earned France a free kick from 25 yards outside the penalty box, which it converted into its fourth and final goal of the match.
The Jayhawks have again added a large number of talented freshmen to this year’s roster. Eight newcomers will suit up in the Crimson and Blue for the first time in a regular-season game, most of whom are expected to contribute immediately. Kayla Morrison, Lois Heuchan and Eli Mayr started in the Jayhawks’ 3-0 exhibition victory over South Dakota State on Aug. 15 and Katie Rostamo, Lauren Breshears, Miriam Melugin and Hannah Lukinac also tallied 30 or more minutes in the exhibition outing. Jordan Nelmark rounds out the class, but missed the exhibition due to injury.
Francis gaining on Win No. 200
Head coach Mark Francis is just three wins shy of 200 for his collegiate coaching career. He has amassed a record of 197-152-23 over his 18-year coaching career (three seasons at Southern Alabama, 15+ seasons at Kansas). The veteran coach has averaged just under 11 wins per season during that span. He is currently second among the active Big 12 coaches in career victories behind West Virginia’s Nikki Izzo-Brown. The earliest Francis could claim win No. 200 would be against Wake Forest on Aug. 31 for the 1 p.m. game in Lawrence.
The Jayhawks will stay in Lawrence for two more home games next weekend when they welcome in UT-San Antonio and Wake Forest. Officials will determine early in the week if the matches will be played at Rock Chalk Park or the Jayhawk Soccer Complex. Kick off against the Roadrunners on Friday, Aug. 29 is tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m.
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