KU soccer going dancing

LAWRENCE -- While most of the Kansas soccer players were not overly concerned about hearing their name called during Monday's NCAA Women's Soccer Tournament selection show, junior goalkeeper Meghan Miller wasn't so sure.

As her teammates gathered in the Memorial Stadium press box to watch the Field of 64 get unveiled, Miller nervously sat in her Economics class, cell phone in hand, with her mind focused anywhere but on the lecture at hand.

"I had class and I was being a good student, so I actually went," Miller said. "But I was sitting there, I had my phone on vibrate and (freshman Lacey) Novak was going to text me with the results."

"I knew the show started at 3 p.m., and at 3 o'clock my stomach started pains I'd never felt before. It was horrible," she added. "3:20 rolls around and she didn't text me, and I was like, 'Uh oh, something's wrong. We didn't get in.'"

Novak wasn't trying to give Miller a good scare. The start of the selection show was simply delayed by 20 minutes. As Miller was leaving class she got Novak's message. Kansas is in.

The Jayhawks (16-5-1) will play Illinois State (11-5-3) at 4 p.m. Friday at the Audrey J. Walton Soccer Complex in Columbia, Mo. In the second game Friday, Missouri will play Eastern Illinois. The winners will play each other at 1 p.m. Sunday.

The No. 16-ranked Jayhawks earned the No. 13-seed in the entire tournament. Only the top 16 teams in the field get seeded. The seeded teams are supposed to be host sites for first and second-round games, but KU's SuperTarget Field does not meet NCAA requirements to be a host site. Among other things, it doesn't have lights or enough seating capacity. That is why the Jayhawks must play at Missouri, despite winning head-to-head last month and being a seeded team.

The Big 12 Conference actually led all conferences by placing eight schools in the tournament. The always-dominant Atlantic Coast Conference was second with seven teams, including the No. 1-seed North Carolina, No. 7-seed Virginia, No. 11-seed Florida State, and No. 12-seed Duke.

In addition to Kansas and Missouri, Colorado earned the No. 10-seed, while Texas, Texas A&M, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Big 12 Tournament champion Oklahoma State also earned NCAA Tournament berths.

"It's unbelievable, I couldn't believe we got that (many teams in)," said fifth-year coach Mark Francis, who also took the Jayhawks to the NCAA Tournament in 2001. "Not that we didn't deserve to get eight teams, because I think our conference is a very, very, very strong, very competitive conference. But I think before this year, the most we've ever had is four. For us to get eight, I think is great."

"It helps everybody in the conference in recruiting. Kids want to go play in competitive conferences, and we had eight teams in the NCAA Tournament this year, so hopefully some of the teams will advance and continue to do will. That will just help everybody out."

Know the Jayhawks:

  • Kansas is 16-5-1 overall, and finished third in the Big 12 Conference.
  • KU's 16 wins this season are the most in program history.
  • Sophomore forward Caroline Smith and junior goalkeeper Meghan Miller were both All-Big 12 First-Team selections.
  • Smith is KU's career leader in goals, game-winning goals, shots and total points.
  • Smith's 18 goals in 2003 are a KU season record, breaking her mark of 12 in 2002.
  • Freshman defender Holly Gault was an All-Big 12 Second-Team choice.
  • The KU roster includes three of the top five scorers in KU history.
  • Miller is KU's career leader in shutouts with 18 â€" 10 of which came this year.
  • The Jayhawks have outscored opponents 40-17 this season.
  • KU is 2-0 all-time against Illinois State, with the last meeting coming in a 1-0 decision in 1997.

Know Illinois State:

    ISU outscored its opponents 18-12 this season.
  • ISU has won eight of its last nine games, including three straight shutouts.
  • The Redbirds have posted 12 shutouts and have been held scoreless seven times.
  • They are one of 10 teams making their first NCAA Tournament appearance.

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