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Archive for Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Jayhawks giddy about NCAAs

Excitement still building, but UCLA will be tough

November 19, 2003

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Kansas University junior goalkeeper Meghan Miller claims she hasn't stopped smiling since Sunday, when the Jayhawk soccer squad beat Missouri in the NCAA Tournament.

Freshman defender Holly Gault still giggles at the thought the Jayhawks actually are going to the Sweet 16.

It's a good thing fifth-year coach Mark Francis is there to keep things on an even keel.

Francis said No. 16 Kansas' approach hadn't changed heading into its Friday clash with No. 2 UCLA. Game time is 9 p.m. CST at Drake Stadium in Los Angeles.

"You have a good result on a Sunday, and you turn around and get ready for the game on Friday, which is what we've done all year," Francis said. "We're just trying to get the girls as prepared as possible for the game."

Francis still is studying game tape of the Bruins (18-1-3), but his early assessment is quite simple -- they're very good.

UCLA has scored 52 goals and allowed just 16 this season -- slightly better than KU's 45 scored and 17 allowed.

The Bruins are led by sophomore Iris Mora's 12 goals and 13 assists. Three others have scored eight or more goals. Defensively, they're solid too, with 13 shutouts this season.

In terms of style and athleticism, Francis said the Bruins compared to Big 12 conference foes Texas and Nebraska. That could work to Kansas' favor, considering it played well but lost to the Longhorns, 1-0, on a late goal and shut out Nebraska, 1-0.

Kansas University freshman Nikki Alvarez, right, chats with Jayhawk
soccer coach Mark Francis during practice. The Jayhawks worked out
Tuesday at Anschutz Pavilion in preparation for Friday's match with
UCLA in the NCAA Tournament.

Kansas University freshman Nikki Alvarez, right, chats with Jayhawk soccer coach Mark Francis during practice. The Jayhawks worked out Tuesday at Anschutz Pavilion in preparation for Friday's match with UCLA in the NCAA Tournament.

Still, Francis said he was more concerned about what the Jayhawks (18-5-1) brought to the table than what they would be up against.

"The key for us is going to be just playing well," he said. "If we play well, I think we have a chance against anybody. If we don't play well, they're a good enough team that they're going to beat you.

"That's really going to be the focus for us this week -- making sure we do everything we possibly can so that when we walk out on the field and the whistle blows, we're ready to play our game."

Kansas didn't have all the kinks worked out defensively against Missouri, but the handful of breakdowns didn't hurt the Jayhawks in the 2-0 victory. Gault said similar shortcomings would be unacceptable against UCLA.

"We're definitely going to have to come out and not make those kind of mistakes," Gault said. "Everybody was real giddy and on the edge, and we just didn't come out as focused as we should have been.





"We definitely have to come out more focused. We can't be scared to make mistakes this weekend. We just have to try to eliminate them."

KU soccer player Holly Gault answers questions during a news
conference. The Jayhawks spoke Tuesday at Hadl Auditorium.

KU soccer player Holly Gault answers questions during a news conference. The Jayhawks spoke Tuesday at Hadl Auditorium.

Jayhawk sophomore Caroline Smith stretches before Tuesday's
practice.

Jayhawk sophomore Caroline Smith stretches before Tuesday's practice.

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