After spending their preliminary season studying and getting engrained into the system, Kansas State apparently possesses a rock-solid sophomore core 4 heading into 2022, which might bolster the Wildcats’ possibilities at touchdown their first-ever Massive 12 Event look within the fall.
Sophomores Kenzi Gillispie, Adah Anderson, Joey Lujan, and Riley Baker carry beneficial expertise to the desk whereas fortifying numerous areas of the sphere, which must be excellent news for a squad that got here one match from reaching the postseason a 12 months in the past.
“I feel pretty good about them,” Okay-State head coach Mike Dibbini says. “They’ve a complete 12 months of expertise below their belt plus they’d a extremely good spring. That they had a information of the methodology of how we play at Okay-State. I be ok with them shifting ahead with their experiences and as they proceed to develop our program. I am excited for them.
“We’re all itching to get out there and get back at it.”
Gillispie, a defender, performed and began all 18 matches and her 1,419 minutes performed ranked second on the crew and as second most for minutes performed by a freshman within the temporary historical past of this system. Anderson, a midfielder, performed in all 18 matches with 4 begins and scored one objective at Austin Peay and recorded the game-winning objective in opposition to North Alabama. Lujan, a midfielder, logged 491 minutes of enjoying time and performed a career-high 67 minutes throughout her first profession begin in opposition to Iowa State. Baker, a ahead, performed in 11 matches and recorded 361 minutes of motion earlier than she went down with a damaged foot, which examined her resiliency.
“Being able to come back and score in the spring season was pretty nice,” Baker says. “My recovery was pretty intense with four or five months to recover. It was pretty hard, but it showed my personal strength.”
All 4 gamers carry the widespread objective after Okay-State had a profitable spring and turns its consideration to its first exhibition match in opposition to Missouri State on August 6 at Buser Household Park.
“We’re all just very hard working and super passionate,” Gillispie says. “We watched how this program has performed in the past and we really want to go to the Big 12 Tournament. We’re really close and have good chemistry. We have the same goals.”
Throw sophomore Juliann Kidd, a defender, into the combo and there is not any telling what the sophomore class might assist the Wildcats obtain.
“Juliann Kidd battled some accidents, so she actually by no means received her probability final season,” Dibbini says, “but she’s pretty athletic.”
How every of the sophomore core 4 arrived at Okay-State is intriguing in itself. Gillispie arrived from Newton, Kansas, as Dibbini had a longstanding relationship together with her membership soccer coach, and Gillispie is a “K-Stater at heart.” Anderson is a local of Kansas Metropolis, Missouri, and wanted little convincing. The 2019 Class 4 Area 4 first-team choice is the daughter of Okay-Staters Andy Anderson and Lina Braun, and Andy performed soccer at Okay-State from 1978-80.
“K-State was always on the radar, but it didn’t have a soccer program for a long time,” Anderson says. “In the middle of my recruiting process, K-State appeared as a good option, and I realized K-State was exactly how my parents talked about it, and it was a great fit.”
Lujan is the long-distance member of the group. Dibbini noticed the native of Gilbert, Arizona, whereas observing a special participant, requested Lujan to go to Okay-State, and it was “the right place at the right time.” Baker is a local of Flower Mound, Texas, and was 2021 Texas State Championship Recreation MVP in her solely season of highschool soccer. Dibbini says Baker’s recruitment was “a last-minute deal” after her membership soccer coach inquired about discovering her a house on the ahead place.
Dibbini describes the sophomore core 4 this fashion:
On Gillispie: “We rely and count on her to play big minutes for us. She’s a great one-on-one defender, she’s great in the air and tough as nails. She has a lot more upside to continue to grow. She has the total package.”
On Anderson: “She’s a solid player. She’s a footballer, as I call her. She has a soccer junkie mind. What I really like about Adah is she’s one of our most versatile players. She’s kind of our utility player, which is absolutely important.”
On Lujan: “She’s massive for us.”
On Baker: She’s one other one who performed vital minutes. She’s a participant who performed actually, very well for us offensively and contributed for us.”
Okay-State’s roster contains one graduate switch, a report 10 seniors, 5 juniors, six sophomores, and 13 freshmen. It is arguably the Wildcats’ most mature squad for the reason that program started enjoying Division I soccer in 2016.
Though a bevy of seniors and juniors are anticipated to provide, the sophomores determine themselves to share some possession as nicely.
“Last season was a big step for us to be able to have that core four that you’re describing,” Baker says. “We were so new, we were freshmen, and being able to come on straight off the bat was big for the team. We were sort of able to come in and make an impact, which was huge. I hope this season our freshmen do that for us, too.”
Provides Anderson: “I am tremendous excited. We now have an amazing crew and the identical core of returners and added nice gamers to assist us succeed. What Coach Dibbini and our coaches have been constructing within the offseason, there’s numerous potential for us.
“The Big 12 is a challenge so we can really mentally prepare for it this time around. There’s going to be some bumps, but just leaning on our teammates and building excitement for this season is a big thing.”
It might make for an thrilling fall.
“We’re more confident,” Gillispie says. “When you’re a freshman you can be timid, and we really didn’t know what to expect going into college and the level is a lot higher. Now that we’ve played, we feel very confident. We know these teams and these players, and I think we can let loose and just play.”