Soccer vs. Grand Valley State

Then-sophomore Ceri Holland kicks the ball against Grand Valley State. The Jayhawks tied the Lakers 1-1 Saturday, March 23.

In the first and only preseason exhibition game, Kansas soccer concluded with a draw against the Omaha Mavericks.

Despite taking 19 more shots than Omaha, the Jayhawks were unable to find the back of the net. Of Kansas’ 20 shots, six were on target and another three hit the goalpost.

“I just didn’t think we were very sharp today; I thought our tempo was too slow when we had the ball,” coach Mark Francis said in a Kansas Athletics press release. “That’s why you play an exhibition game, to get the kinks out, see where you’re at.”

Despite putting up 5.3 shots more than the squad averaged last season, Francis thought the stagnant offense was due to the conditioning of the players. 

"Talking to some of the kids, I think they are very heavy legged. I thought we didn't look fit, but I think part of it is they just haven't really recovered from the preseason stuff," Francis said. "Maybe it's our fault; maybe we didn't give them enough downtime; maybe we worked them too hard." 

Junior midfielder Ceri Holland led the pack with seven shots, with two of them on target.

“She created opportunities for herself and others by dribbling and drawing attention and drawing pressure,” Francis said.

Ten other Jayhawks had at least one shot, and a total of 22 players touched the field at Rock Chalk Park. Kansas earned 12 corner kicks but was unable to capitalize on any of those opportunities.

The defense, however, held strong throughout the match, allowing only one shot the whole game. The lone shot from the Mavericks came in the ninth minute, but sophomore goalkeeper Sarah Peters was there to stop it.

Although the defense kept the Mavericks away from the goal, Francis still saw room for improvement.

“Defensively, a couple of times we were disorganized because of a lack of communication,” Francis said.

Two freshmen Jayhawks, midfielder Ebba Costow and defender Ellie Prybylski, were starters in the match, and four other freshmen saw action in the exhibition.

Francis continued to discuss the impact that training has had on the freshmen.

"I think that the training load is a little bit different so there's an adjustment there for the girls to get used to that," he said. "They'll get acclimated to it; obviously preseason's a little bit more intense in terms of the load."  

In total, 11 underclassmen saw action in the exhibition game.

Moving forward, Francis said he would like to see the team focus on seeing space and capitalize on open areas, especially in the wide channels.

“I think in the attacking half, we really didn’t get in behind them in the wide channels at all,” Francis said. “Part of it is we’re not making the those runs and looking for it, and part of it is when we have the ball, we’re not seeing those spaces and those opportunities. We’ve got to get better in that area.”

The Jayhawks’ season will officially begin Thursday, Aug. 22 at 7 p.m. The Nebraska Cornhuskers will pay a visit to Rock Chalk Park to kickoff the 2019 season for Kansas.