As the winningest soccer coach in Kansas University history, Mark Francis enters his 11th season of coaching with a squad full of potential.
Last season, the Jayhawks fared above average, winning a game in the NCAA Tournament and ending with a 13-8-2 record.
“I was happy to make it to the second round of the tournament,” Francis said. “However, the regular season was a bit disappointing, and we want to look to improve.”
Improving should come easily with a wealth of experience.
“We have nine starters back out of 11,” Francis said. “With the success we had last year, especially in the postseason, it will be good to bring into this next season.”
Among the team’s most experienced players are seniors Kim Boyer, a 5-foot-10 forward from Arvada, Colo.; Monica Dolinsky, a 5-5 midfielder/forward from Carmel, Ind.; Julie Hanley, a 5-10 goalkeeper from Indianapolis; Estelle Johnson, a 5-6 defender from Fort Collins, Colo.; and Shannon McCabe, a 5-6 forward from Tulsa, Okla.
Francis did not single out any players in terms of talent.
“Every player will contribute,” he said. “It’s just going to depend on how they come in and perform in this environment.”
The veteran KU leader said even the eight incoming freshmen will have their shot at making a difference in the program right away.
“We don’t look at freshmen as rookies,” Francis said. “We expect them to perform at this level and not even miss a beat.”
Like always, the main goal for this year’s team revolves around winning the Big 12 Conference title.
“There is a lot of potential in this team,” Francis said. “Yet there are a lot of factors that go into being successful. Seeing what the group is made of is to be determined.”
The Jayhawks were to report to campus Aug. 6 with the first day of practice Aug. 7.
KU will open the 2009 season at 1 p.m. on Aug. 23 at Drake University.