Kansas Set to Host Roadrunners in Lawrence Friday
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas soccer will attempt to move to 3-0 for the first time in five years as it welcomes in the UT-San Antonio Roadrunners on Friday, Aug. 29. The Jayhawks, who notched consecutive three-goal performances to open the season last week, will kickoff against UTSA at 5 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 a pair of impressive wins over Wyoming and SMU last weekend to kickoff the season. The team’s +5 goal differential after the first two matches is the program’s best to start a season since 2003.
Junior Liana Salazar netted a goal in each of the first two games to lead the team and the Big 12. Four other Jayhawks added goals during the first weekend, including junior Ashley Williams and freshman Eli Mayr, who both also tallied an assist apiece.
Kansas’ six goals are the most to start a season in 11 years. The Jayhawks averaged 13 shots over their first two games and managed to but over 38 percent of those shots on frame. Salazar, Williams and senior Ali Kimura are tied for the team lead after each posted four shots in the first weekend.
The KU defense was solid in its first two outings, allowing just one goal and limiting its opponents to just over 11 shots per match. Senior goalkeeper Kaitlyn Stroud posted a 0.5 goals against average in the first weekend with the help of eight saves and a .889 save percentage.
About the Roadrunners
UTSA is also coming off an undefeated opening weekend after wins over Houston Baptist and Sam Houston State last week. UTSA entered 2014 after tallying a 5-12-2 record a year ago. The Roadrunners return 13 letterwinners from last year when they placed sixth in the west division of Conference-USA with a 4-4-2 record. SMU was picked to finish 11th in the league’s preseason poll.
UTSA scored three goals in two games last week and posted 15.5 shots per contest. Senior midfielder Katy O’Brien put in two of her team’s two goals to start the year. Senior forward Anissa Munson was the squad’s top scorer last season with three goals.
The Mustang defense allowed one opponent goal and 25 shots in its first two games. Sophomore goalkeeper Katherine Tseno played nearly all of her team’s minutes in the opening weekend, making six saves and notching a shutout to start the year over Houston Baptist. Tseno appeared in three matches with one start and logged 80 minutes as a freshman in 2013.
Greg Sheen is in his first season as the Roadrunners’ interim coach after he spent 2013 as an assistant. Last season, he helped the Roadrunners establish a home field advantage in their first season as a member of Conference USA. Sheen came to UTSA in 2013 after serving the previous three seasons as the associate head coach and recruiting coordinator at Wright State. He helped lead the Raiders to 30 wins and a pair of appearances in the Horizon League Tournament Championship game (2011-12) during his three campaigns.
Jayhawks Off to 2-0 Start to Begin 2014
The Kansas soccer team began its season on a high note this past weekend with wins over Wyoming and SMU in Lawrence. 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 junior Ashley Williams all tallied scores in the win.
Less than 48 hours later, Kansas used its second-consecutive three-goal performance and a diving Kaitlyn Stroud save on a penalty kick in the waning minutes to win in shutout fashion over SMU, 3-0, on a hot day at the Jayhawk Soccer Complex. Eli Mayr scored the eventual game-winner nearly 31 minutes into the contest and Kansas added a pair of scores late over the final 20 minutes, one from Ali Kimura and another from Liana Salazar, while improving to 2-0 in 2014.
Kansas Offense Spreading the Wealth
The Jayhawks saw five different players contribute six goals after two matches last weekend, marking the most KU players to enter the scoresheet after two games in over 14 years. Liana Salazar was the lone Jayhawk to score twice. More than just goal scoring, 13 of the 18 players who saw action tallied at least one shot over the course of the opening-weekend’s matches. Three different Jayhawks were also involved in the three assists that were awarded over the first two games.
Francis Gaining on Win No. 200
Head coach Mark Francis is just two wins shy of 200 for his collegiate coaching career. He has amassed a record of 198-152-23 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.
Gagnet Helps France to Third-place finish at U20 World Cup
Kansas soccer’s sophomore defender Aurélie Gagnet concluded her stay at the U20 Women’s World Cup Aug. 24 after she helped her native France to a bronze medal after topping North Korea 3-2. Gagnet saw action in three of France’s seven matches during the tournament with two starts.
A native of Montpellier, France, Gagnet entered the match Sunday in the 70th minute with the game tied, 2-2. With her help on the French back line, North Korea was held scoreless for the remainder of the match, while France put in the eventual game-winner in the 79th minute.
On Wednesday, Aug. 20, the French fell to eventual champion Germany, 2-1, in the semifinals. Gagnet started the match and played all 90 minutes. With the game tied 1-1 in the 81st minute the Germans sent in a corner kick that was quickly directed toward the French goal, however, Gagnet was there in frame to deflect the ball away. Unfortunately, the loose ball went to the feet of another German forward and was sent to the back of the net for the late game-winner.
Gagnet has now tallied 11 starts for her youth National Team and has played over 1,000 minutes. The sophomore returned to Lawrence this week and will be available for the Jayhawks’ match on Aug. 29 against UT-San Antonio in Lawrence.
Jayhawks 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.
The Jayhawks have again added a large number of talented freshmen to this year’s roster. Six newcomers have already suited up in the Crimson and Blue in the regular-season, most of whom are expected to contribute immediately. Kayla Morrison, Lois Heuchan and Eli Mayr started in both the Jayhawks’ season-opening victories over Wyoming and SMU and Katie Rostamo, Miriam Melugin and Hannah Lukinac also saw minutes in the first weekend of action. Jordan Nelmark rounds out the class, but missed the first two games due to injury.
Kansas to Return to Rock Chalk Park on Oct. 3
After evaluating field conditions over the week, Kansas officials announced that the soccer team will look to resume playing games at Rock Chalk Park no later than the Jayhawks’ Big 12 opener versus Oklahoma State on Oct. 3. Both of Kansas’ matches this coming weekend – Aug. 29 vs. UT-San Antonio and Aug. 31 vs. Wake Forest – will be held at the Jayhawk Soccer Complex.
After playing on the new surface last Friday night against Wyoming, Kansas coaches and administrators deemed the field to be unsafe for play due to the uneven surface and several areas with little or no turf growth. The subsequent game on Sunday against SMU was then moved to KU’s former game field, the Jayhawk Soccer Complex, which is where the team will remain for the rest of its home non-conference schedule.
The poor field conditions at Rock Chalk Park were attributed to an absence of weather conditions that facilitate the best environment for Bermuda turf growth. When weighing the field installation options over a year ago with turf experts, it was determined the best option for the long-term wellness of the field would be to sprig, or plant, the Bermuda grass seedlings instead of sodding the field. This decision was made with the knowledge that young Bermuda grass would thrive during a normally hot Kansas summer.
However, the average high temperature in July and August this year was just over 87 degrees prior to last week, much cooler than the 91-degree average high for this area during those months. Despite numerous efforts to facilitate faster growth, the unusual weather patterns left the surface behind schedule and unfit for play at the start of the season.
Following an inspection of the field Tuesday with turf experts, officials believe that the early-October target date is the best option to expect to have the surface game-ready.
KU officials reiterated that if the playing surface at Rock Chalk Park is deemed ready for play in the weeks prior to the Oct. 3 match, the team could play matches there.
The Jayhawks will prepare for their first match of the season versus a ranked opponent when they welcome in No. 24 Wake Forest to Lawrence on Sunday, Aug. 31. KU and Wake met in Winston Salem for the first time two years ago and played to a 1-1 draw. The two teams will try to go one up in the series when they meet for the 1 p.m., kickoff at the Jayhawk Soccer Complex. The game will be televised on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel and ESPN3.
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