LAWRENCE (KSNT) – Kansas soccer’s 2021 campaign didn’t go as good as the team would’ve liked. The Jayhawks finished with a 7-11-1 record last season.

“Last year’s fall obviously didn’t go as well as we wanted it to, so I think it was a huge motivation factor,” junior midfielder Avery Smith said.

“It wasn’t our best season so I think that was a big motivator for our team to kind of get on the same page,” super-senior defender Kaela Hansen said.

The Jayhawks have responded in a big way so far in their 2022 play. The team sits at 7-5, matching last year’s win total with at least eight matches still left to play.

“Great competition, but we’ve come out on the right side of most of them,” head coach Mark Francis said.

The team has found success by recruiting all over. KU has players from nine different states and six different countries.

“Getting to know my teammates and where they come from and their culture and how they do things, even like the way they speak, sometimes I’ll pick up on how they speak and you pick up their slang,” junior defender Moira Kelly said. “So it’s just really cool, I think, getting to know everybody from different places.”

“[It] brings in different types of skill and stuff like that because in different states and countries, people play soccer differently, so it definitely makes the team very diverse,” Hansen, a Vancouver native, said.

One of the Jayhawks most impressive international players is Shira Elinav. Elinav came to Lawrence from Israel. Players like Elinav bring in all sorts of different knowledge and experience.

“She spent a year in the army…none of our kids have done that, they don’t even know what that looks like,” Francis said. “For our players, it gives them an understanding of what it’s like to live in other countries. Not everybody has the experiences they have growing up.”

On the field, Hansen leads the group with 90-straight starts under her belt as a fifth-year senior. She hasn’t missed a game since arriving at KU as a freshman.

“She’s definitely somebody I look up to…I’ve played a lot of games, so I’m hoping I can get on her level,” Kelly said.

Smith is a leader, too. She recently won the Jayhawker award after overcoming three injuries in the offseason.

“I felt super honored to receive that award,” Smith said. “It just makes me want to continue to push and continue to get better.”

Kansas soccer plays its third conference game of the season on Friday, Sept. 30 at West Virginia.

K-Nation is a new weekly sports show filled with K-State and KU athletics. 27 Sports Director Glenn Kinley along with 27 Sports reporters Lainey Gerber and Landon Reinhardt are teaming up to tell viewers all they need to know about the Wildcats and Jayhawks.

K-Nation will air every Sunday night on 27 News after the 10 p.m. newscast.