Lawrence is home to a soccer wonderland this week.
Free State High and Lawrence High played to a 1-1 tie Thursday, the Kansas University team opens Big 12 Conference play against Colorado today and plays host to Nebraska on Sunday, and the Kansas Cup All Girls tournament begins today.
In its first year, the Kansas Cup is a premier club tournament sponsored by the Kaw Valley Soccer Assn. and is run by volunteers. More than 50 teams have signed up to participate after an announcement was placed on the Kansas State Youth Soccer Assn. Web site.
"Teams are just interested in coming to Lawrence not only for the tournament but for the connection with Division One soccer," KVSA coaching director Frank Trovato said. "We're ecstatic with the participation and the weather."
The Kansas Cup will begin at Youth Sports Inc. fields today and continue there Saturday before finishing Sunday at KU's SuperTarget Field.
The union between KVSA and KU includes registration for the Kansas Cup during today's match between the Jayhawks and the Buffaloes, and championship matches before and after Kansas's match against Nebraska on Sunday.
Trovato said cooperation from KU coach Mark Francis has been important to the Kaw Valley Force club teams.
"Coach Francis has been fantastic about his interest in developing our club and his program at the same time," Trovato said. "It's been a great relationship and very positive."
Trovato said the tournament was started to help create revenue for the association to meet its goals of improving the YSI fields and decreasing the cost to participate in the premier clubs.
"It's been a booming success," Trovato said. "It should help the club with revenue and we're thankful for all the work that people have done here and the work KU does to pull this together as well."