KU soccer coach Mark Francis notches 200th win at KU in 3-0 win over Central Michigan

With temperatures all the way up into the mid-90s, KU soccer coach Mark Francis couldn’t complain about the post-match celebration, even if it caught him off guard.

“That cooled me off pretty quick,” the coach said of the cooler poured over his head after a 3-0 win over Central Michigan (0-1-1) at Rock Chalk Park. “It was water I think, since I’m not sticky. So it must have been water.”

The move, coordinated by forward Katie McClure and defender Kayla Morrison, came as a result of the coach’s 200th career win at the university. And it was tactfully executed.

The duo waited until after Francis had shaken hands with the other team and the match officials before surprising him on the walk back to the sideline. And moments later, with Francis still sporting his drenched blue polo shirt and gray shorts, the celebration continued.

As the Jayhawks (1-1-0) huddled around the end line, Francis was presented with a gray, No. 200 jersey. He held it up, showing off the number and perhaps even admiring the potential change of clothes.

“I’m going to wear that out tonight,” he joked in the huddle.

But after speaking to the team and taking another moment to collect his thoughts, Francis put into perspective exactly what it all meant to him.

“It reinforces that I’m old. Just been here a long time,” he said. “No, in those 200 wins there have just been a lot of really, really good kids, you know? Over the years. Like I just said, ‘Hi,’ to Jackie Georgoulis from last year. You miss being around those kids.

“Got some of them now who are 40 years old almost, I guess, which is kind of scary.”

As for the ones on the field on Sunday, they certainly played like they knew what was at stake, even if, as one player said after the match, it had slipped their minds after Friday’s loss.

Failing to score a goal in their first two matches of the season — a 1-0 exhibition loss to Iowa and a 3-0 loss to Nebraska — the Jayhawks dominated on the offensive end, tallying 22 shots (11 on frame) and forcing Central Michigan goalkeeper Zoie Reed into eight saves.

Midfielder Sophie Maierhofer gave the Jayhawks their first goal of the season, knocking in a cross from Grace Hagan at the back post in the 67th minute. And after the Jayhawks waited more than 246 minutes to score their first goal, it took them less than 120 seconds to get another.

“I thought once we scored one, we’d get more,” Francis said.

Maierhofer added her second of the game in the 69th minute, scoring again on an assist from Hagan. She nearly had the chance for a hat trick in the 73rd, but overran a cross played in from Amari Hopkins.

“I’m really happy for Sophie today,” Hagan said after the game. “She works her butt off in practice and in games all the time. She’s always analyzing, trying to work out the kinks, so I think Sophie has to be the most deserving person I know.”

Ceri Holland finished off the scoring with a backward, right-footed kick in the 88th minute.

The Jayhawks will return to action Friday, facing off against Tulsa in their first road match of the season.

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