Archive for Thursday, August 24, 2006

Kansas soccer seeking starters

Competition fierce among KU midfielders

August 24, 2006


The Kansas University soccer season is exactly one day away, and that can only mean one thing for Jessica Bush: better get the dance mix ready.

"It's team bonding. In the locker room, we have a pregame warmup tape where we dance around," the midfielder/forward said. "It should be serious when you step on the field, but when we're in the locker room or we're getting ready and pumped up for games, I think it's good because it keeps the fun in it."

So much for pregame jitters. There's no reason Bush, in her sophomore season, should have them anyway. She started every match last season as a freshman.

That might not seem like much of a feat, but KU coach Mark Francis said there was enormous competition at the midfield spots after KU's 1-1 exhibition tie against Drake on Aug. 18.

He said the Jayhawks had five capable starting midfielders. Only three will start when Kansas opens the season Friday against Furman in Lawrence.


6Sports video: NCAA snub still stings soccer team Enlarge video

"I had conversations with all the kids who didn't start on Friday because they wanted to know what they needed to do to start," Francis said. "That's a tough spot to be in. When you're used to starting two or three years, and all of a sudden you're not starting, it's kind of a wake-up call."

Senior midfielder Michelle Rasmussen found herself not starting the exhibition game. Rasmussen started her previous three years at Kansas.

Bush and senior Holly Gault, who has made a position change from defender to midfielder, appear to be regular starters at the position.

But nothing's certain.

"If it means that I'm busting my butt in practice today, because I know if I don't, this kid's going to take my spot, that's only going to help our team," Francis said. "It's a pain in the neck picking the starting 11, but I'd rather have that problem than the opposite."

Bush, a Blue Springs, Mo., native, said she learned from the on-the-field work ethic of Gault. Teammates have picked up on Gault's willingness to work on the field.

Mark Francis' 2006 media day press conference


"I want to play hard like her," Bush said. "I think especially us younger guys go harder because she goes hard. Plus, if we don't go hard, we'll probably get killed by her."

Gault, a preseason All-Big 12 Conference selection, said she would like to lead the team by example during her senior campaign. If her statement holds true, one example she'll set for Kansas is that the team is more important than individual stats or honors.

"We haven't even stepped on the field. Yeah, it's nice that people have respect for you, but, also, I really haven't earned anything yet," Gault said about the preseason honor. "I'm more looking to do well at the end of the season, not the beginning."

Kansas finished last season 11-7-2 (6-3-1 Big 12). The Jayhawks finished in a four-way tie for second place, but failed to make the NCAA Tournament.

The Jayhawks are motivated to prove themselves worthy.

After all, five Big 12 teams made the tournament, including Texas, which finished sixth in the conference and lost head-to-head to Kansas.

"It serves as a lot of motivation. You look at my class, we've had a taste of the Sweet 16, the Big 12 Championship, and last year was kind of a letdown," Gault said. "Obviously, we want to go out with a bang and do well."


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