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Archive for Saturday, August 16, 2008

Tough schedule beneficial to soccer team

August 16, 2008

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The Kansas University women's soccer team went through murderer's row a year ago.

Facing eight teams that finished in the top 30 in the postseason rankings - half of them nonconference opponents - the KU soccer schedule was built in attempt to make the team better.

By the end of the season, Kansas coach Mark Francis could make the case that it did. After losing to their first five ranked opponents, the Jayhawks went 1-0-2 against their final three - including a 2-1 victory over Border War foe Missouri on Senior Day.

"Our schedule was very tough last year, and a lot of the young guys played a lot because we had some injuries early on," Francis said. "So there were a lot of people playing a lot and gaining a lot of experience. We saw a lot of improvement from those kids over the course of the spring. Some of our better players are our younger guys."

This year's schedule is shaping up to be just as brutal as the 2007 schedule. Beside the regular Big 12 Conference top-30 regulars Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Texas and Missouri, KU will face three nonconference foes ranked in last year's postseason top 30.

Kansas opens the regular season with the most difficult of the three non-con teams with a home game against Purdue, which finished No. 9 in the Soccerbuzz.com final rankings.

"That will be a great way to open the season up," Francis said. "We play them and Auburn, which are both very good teams. I think right off the bat we'll get a good gauge of where we are."

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