With practice beginning on Aug. 1, Kansas women's soccer is back in action and ready to bounce back from a tough 2017 season, finishing 3-5-1 in conference play and 8-9-3 overall.
Kansas started the 2017 season strong, starting 5-1-1, including a 2-1 win over then-ranked No. 7 USC. The Jayhawks would then hit a bit of a slump, limping into the Big 12 portion of their schedule, thanks to an ailing defense.
The Jayhawks went back and forth in conference play, but once again sprung surprises upon the conference as they defeated then-ranked No. 9 Texas 2-1, giving the Longhorns their first loss of 2017.
As the team navigated through the rest of the regular season, Kansas looked for postseason hope in the Big 12 tournament. However, the Jayhawks’ season ended in the Big 12 Championship as the TCU Horned Frogs defeated them in penalty kicks.
Preparing for the 2018 season, Kansas found some success, going undefeated throughout spring play. The Jayhawks took a preseason trip to Europe, outscoring opponents 23-2 in their five games throughout Germany and Belgium.
Since practice has started back up, head coach Mark Francis has put an emphasis on defense and intensity. The mindset for him has been if Kansas defenders can keep up the pace of play, they will be able to defend better.
The Kansan takes a look at the top five senior athletes who could prove to be key contributors this fall in their respective sports.
Another thing that has been apparent is the Jayhawks’ speed. The team possesses a good amount of speed, and more intense practices could lead to more success on the field, as Kansas would be able to simply out-run opponents.
The Jayhawks season will officially begin on Aug. 17 when they face off against Pepperdine, who finished last season 15-3-3 and was ranked No. 20 overall. Kansas’ non-conference portion of the season will also include games against Texas A&M — who thrashed Kansas 5-1 last season — Butler and Cincinnati.
Senior forward Grace Hagan and junior forward Katie McClure will look to continue to give Kansas a strong offensive attack. Hagan led the Jayhawks in both goals and assists last season and will look to improve once again going into her final season as a Jayhawk.
With the departure of goalkeeper Maddie Dobbyns, junior Regan Gibbs will likely take over between the sticks.
Dobbyns played in only two games last season but allowed four goals, meaning she will need to make some adjustments if she takes over the starting position.
Overall, the Jayhawks need to work on their defense, forcing turnovers and attacking when in transition. If Kansas can play more consistently on defense, they could once gain become a legitimate threat in the Big 12.