Although spring is a time for exhibition games, the Kansas University women's soccer team showed its new coach what it is capable of Saturday.
Kansas tied St. Louis University, 1-1, at SuperTarget Field, but showed coach Mark Francis that the Jayhawks are capable of improving despite losing several key players after the fall session.
"I've been impressed by what I've seen so far," Francis said. "In terms of opportunities, I thought we had a lot more chances than (St. Louis)."
After a slow start to the team's first spring contest -- which is the equivalent of major league baseball's spring training because none of the games are official -- Kansas freshman Melanie Schroeder scored on a penalty kick in the 35th minute to give KU a 1-0 lead.
Schroeder wasn't the player fouled in the box, but Francis quickly has figured out who his penalty kicker will be.
"She strikes the ball very well," Francis said of Schroeder.
Schroeder, who scored one goal in the fall, will be counted on to contribute more heavily next season. For now, she likes the spring because it allows her and other young players to be given more playing time.
"It's good for all of us to be able to get some experience," Schroeder said.
After the Jayhawks dominated field possession Saturday, the Billikens capitalized on their one true opportunity when Kathleen Schager battled for a loose ball in the 69th minute and blasted a shot into the right corner that notched the game.
St. Louis coach Tim Champion was pleased with the draw, but even happier to be in Lawrence.
"The spring is fun because it gives our team a chance to get away and go to different places," Champion said. "All we did was get into town and see a movie in the hotel, but it's nice to go out once in a while."
Kansas finished 5-13-1 in 1998 and lost much of its experience. The Jayhawks lost four seniors, but just as important, lost two of the team's key youngsters.
Freshman Lindsay Kennedy left the team two games before the end of the fall season after tying the team for goals scored with four, and junior goalkeeper Jen Fecke is not playing because of academic problems.
Erin Hon, the Jayhawks' other four-goal scorer besides Kennedy, graduated.
Sophomore Kylie Watts is the only true defender remaining on Francis' roster after three others graduated.
"We've had to move some players around," Francis said. "Kylie is our lone defender, so we're having to make some adjustments."
The Jayhawks, however, showed promise Saturday. Along with Schroeder up front, sophomore Katie Garrity looked comfortable in goal while recording five saves.
Francis, who came to Kansas after compiling a 31-8-1 record at South Alabama, also has a solid recruiting class coming in, including three girls from his former team.
One Jaguars transfer, who Francis cannot discuss until after the upcoming signing period, scored more goals in two years than the Jayhawks have scored as a team in their four-year history.