Kansas University's exhibition soccer game a week ago today against Creighton was just that -- an exhibition.
It was an up-tempo display of efficiency and aggression on offense as the Jayhawks scored almost at will, pummeling the Bluejays, 6-1. It also was a down-and-dirty display of hard-tackling, tough defense. It was a walk in the park for the superior KU squad.
Tonight's 9 p.m. CST season opener at UNLV in Las Vegas isn't supposed to be so easy.
"It's going to be nice to get into a game that actually means something," senior goalkeeper Meghan Miller said of the contest.
Kansas expects to receive UNLV's best effort after the Jayhawks were tapped No. 17 nationally by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America -- the official national poll -- earlier this week and were tapped as high as No. 11 in another preseason projection.
KU coach Mark Francis said the Rebels would be an intriguing foe for another reason. They came to Lawrence in 2002 and spoiled KU's season opener with a 2-all tie after Kansas built an early two-goal lead. That was the first of a handful of games in which the Jayhawks seemingly underachieved before missing the NCAA Tournament.
"We haven't beat them," Francis said, "so it should be a pretty good matchup."
Besides playing a tough opponent on the road, the Jayhawks dealt with additional adversity this week during preparations. Storms early in the week flooded the Jayhawk Soccer Complex and forced the team to move practices indoors.
Senior defender Stacy Leeper said the change of venue didn't cause a loss of focus, however.
"We had to practice indoors all week because of the weather, but we're controlling the controllables and not letting the rest bother us," she said. "Actually, we'll be playing on Bermuda grass in Vegas, so it's good for us to be playing (indoors) on the faster surface."
Following tonight's contest, the Jayhawks will travel to Provo, Utah, for a 3 p.m. game Monday at Brigham Young. BYU finished 2003 ranked No. 14 by the NSCAA but is unranked this year.