LAWRENCE, Kan. - Kansas soccer kicks off its 18th season of varsity competition on Sunday with an exhibition match against Eastern Illinois at 1 p.m. at the Jayhawk Soccer Complex. Fans can attend Sunday's contest free of charge.
Follow the Jayhawks Fans unable to attend Sunday's match can tune in for a free audio broadcast on AT&T Jayhawk All-Access with Kansas graduate student and soccer enthusiast Pete Knutson calling the action. All 15 Jayhawk home contest will be available free of charge on AT&T Jayhawk All-Access at KUAthletics.com. Fans can also follow the action on Gametracker or receive live updates via Twitter @ku_soccer.
About the Jayhawks Kansas enters the 2012 season with high hopes, coming off an 11-9-1 finish in 2011. The Jayhawks qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time under head coach Mark Francis last season, falling to Georgia in the opening round. KU returns 10 starters from last year's squad, including its top six scorers, three starting defenders and its starting goalkeeper.
Francis, now in his 14th season at Kansas, is the school's all-time leader with 146 career wins with the Jayhawks. He has led the program to five NCAA Tournament appearances and its only Big 12 regular season championship in 2004.
Scouting the Panthers Eastern Illinois enters the 2012 season looking for a fresh start coming off of a 5-12-2 record last year. While the Panthers won five matches last year, four of them came against Ohio Valley Conference competition. EIU finished seventh in the final OVC standings.
Eastern Illinois averaged 0.74 goals per game and 10.1 shots per game last season. Senior forward Kristin Germann is the team's top returning scorer after tallying five goals and 12 points a year ago, earning her Second Team All-Ohio Valley Conference honors. Four other returning players, senior Jessie Morgan, senior Brenna Vogel, sophomore Brooke Sill and junior Lauren Hoppensteadt, each had a goal last year.
The Panthers allowed 1.26 goals per game and 16.0 shots per game last season. Redshirt junior goalkeeper Jessica Taldone posted a 1.20 goals against average in 2011 and an .841 save percentage with five shutouts.
Head coach Summer Perala is in her fourth season at EIU and has an overall record of 19-29 while at the school. Kansas and Eastern Illinois have split the previous two meetings on the pitch, with KU taking the most recent contest in 1997.
For Starters Kansas returns 10 starters from last year's team, which finished the season at 11-9-1 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in school history. Included in the 10 returning starters are the team's top six scorers from a year ago.
Senior midfielder/forward Whitney Berry (eight goals, 13 assists) leads the way, while sophomore forwards Ingrid Vidal (11 goals, six assists) and Jamie Fletcher (seven goals, four assists) as well as junior forward Caroline Kastor (six goals, seven assists), sophomore midfielder Liana Salazar (five goals, one assist) and junior midfielder Amy Grow (five goals, one assist) all return to the starting lineup.
New Batch Sunday's contest could feature as many as six newcomers to the Kansas lineup, which includes senior Cassie Dickerson - a transfer from Ohio State. Dickerson, a senior defender from Kalamazoo, Mich., lettered two years for the Buckeyes and was named an NSCAA All-American in 2009, helping Ohio State to a Big Ten championship.
Berry Best Kansas senior midfielder/forward Whitney Berry is looking to move up in the school's record books this season. Berry enters the 2012 season ranked fourth in career points (59), sixth in goals (17) and second in assists (25). The senior's 25 assists are just five shy of Monica Dolinsky's career total of 30, which heads KU's all-time list.
Olympic Participation Kansas sophomores Liana Salazar and Ingrid Vidal both played in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games for the Colombian National soccer team. The 2012 Olympics marked Colombia's women's soccer debut.
Vidal started two of Colombia's three group play matches and totaled 211 minutes of field time, while Salazar started the first contest against South Korea and played 96 minutes at the Olympics.
More International Experience Senior midfielder Sarah Robbins will miss the first few weeks of the season in order to represent her native Canada at the Under-20 Women's World Cup in Japan at the end of August. Robbins, who is a veteran to Canadian national camps, participated in the U-20 national team's tour of Europe in June.
Robbins has played in 35 matches during her time with the Jayhawks, logging over 1,500 minutes of field time. The senior is a four-time member of the Athletic Director's and Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Rolls at KU.
Up Next Kansas will open the 2012 regular season on Friday, Aug. 17 by hosting UC-Santa Barbara at the Jayhawk Soccer Complex. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m., as the Jayhawks play their earliest season-opener in program history.