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2015 Fall Sports Preview: Women's Soccer

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The KU soccer team went the NCAA tournament last year and have hopes of returning.

Fresh off of an NCAA tournament performance, the 2015 KU soccer team is ready to show that last season was no fluke and that they can improve on a stellar fall of 2014. Here’s our preview of the 2015 Kansas soccer team.

Recap 2014


Last season has to be considered a success for Kansas despite the NCAA tournament loss to "rival" Missouri. The Jayhawks finished the season 15-6 and went 5-3 in the deep Big 12. Kansas was a stalwart at their new home, Rock Chalk Park, amassing a 10-2 record in west Lawrence. KU spent much of the season ranked in the top 25.

Key Personnel Loss


You’d have to say that Ali Kimura is the biggest loss for KU. She scored three goals and added seven assists on the year.

Key Returners

The most important player to return to the Kansas team is without a doubt Liana Salazar. The Bogotá, Colombia native is fresh off a first team All-Big 12 season. She was also a first team All-Region selection and a third team All-American. She scored 13 goals (the second best single season tally in school history) and was twice named the big 12 offensive player of the week.

After having snubbed her national team in World Cup qualifiers leading up to this past summer’s tournament in Canada, the national team snubbed her right back by not naming her to the squad despite the fact that she is clearly one of the best to play for Colombia. Perhaps the snub will lead her to rack up the goals for Kansas? If she does, KU could be well on their way to another NCAA tournament berth.

Forward Ashley Williams is also back for her senior season. Last season, the Albuquerque, New Mexico native scored seven goals and added three assists on her way to first team All-Big 12 status. KU is going to need similar production from their central target to achieve their goal of returning to the NCAA tournament.

KU also returns junior defender Aurélie Gagnet. Gagnet is a clear talent but she missed much of last season playing for her native France in the U-20 World Cup and then missed additional time because of injury. If she is healthy and available, it will bolster KU’s back line.

New Faces


Kansas has eight freshman on the roster including redshirt goalkeeper

Lauren Breshears from St. Peters, MO.

Newbies:

Taylor Chaffetz, Midfielder, Grand Junction, Colorado

Taylor Christie, Defender, Overland Park, KS (Shawnee Mission South HS)

Anna Courtney, Defender, Parkville, MO (Park Hill South HS)

Regan Gibbs, Goalkeeper, Naches, Washington

Grace Hagan, Midfielder, Wichita, KS (Kapaun Mt. Carmel Catholic HS)

Parker Roberts, Midfielder, Leawood, KS, Blue Valley North HS)

Lindsay Samms, Defender, Prior Lake, MN

Season Outlook and Schedule


The Big 12 is always a volatile ride and unfortunately, Kansas has to make trips to Morgantown, West Virginia and Lubbock, Texas this season. Not only are those two spots the most geographically challenging in the conference, they are also the home to the two best teams in the conference. How Kansas does in those games could very well determine how they do this season, and at the very least, it will determine seeding come NCAA tournament selection time.

KU has winnable road non-con games against North Texas, SMU, Wyoming, Colorado College, and Arkansas plus winnable games at home against Oregon State, Santa Clara, and South Dakota State. If KU takes care of business in six of eight of those, they’ll be on their way.

Prediction


Last season the Jayhawks exceeded expectations, but they can’t sneak up on anyone this season. With Salazar and Williams returning, KU should have enough firepower. Whether or not they can keep other teams from scoring will ultimately decide their fate, but after last season’s performance, I’m going to give coach Mark Francis some credit and predict that KU returns to the big dance.