Frances Silva never planned on playing college soccer anywhere close to her hometown. In fact, she wanted to get as far away as possible. Silva, a former standout at Blue Valley North, was one of the best high school players in the Kansas City area and a die-hard Kansas basketball fan.
By RUSTIN DODD
The Kansas City Star
But when she took an official visit to West Virginia, she fell in love with a town that felt like the other college town she knew so well.
“I truly felt it kind of had a Lawrence feel without actually being in Lawrence,” says Silva, now a senior with the Mountaineers.
At the time, West Virginia was also one of the top women’s soccer programs in the Big East. But as Silva has learned, sometimes things have a funny way of working out. Four years later, West Virginia is in the Big 12, and Silva will return home for the Big 12 women’s soccer tournament at the Swope Soccer Village in Kansas City.
The Mountaineers, 13-3-2 overall and 7-1 in the Big 12, are the No. 1 seed in the tournament and will take on — yep, you guessed it — No. 8 seed Kansas, 7-10-2 and 2-5-1, at 5:30 p.m. today.
“Once we knew it was gonna be in Kansas City, it was something that I’ve kind of looked forward to all year,” Silva said. “And it’s kind of poetic justice, if you want to say it like that, that I get to finish out my Big 12 career in Kansas City.”
Silva isn’t just along for the ride, either. Earlier this week, she was selected Big 12 offensive player of the year while leading the league in both goals (12) and assists (13), helping West Virginia to its second consecutive Big 12 regular-season title.
She’s also very familiar with the Mountaineers’ quarterfinal opponent. Silva took a recruiting visit to KU and was part of the Blue Valley Stars club organization with current Jayhawks Haley Yearout (Blue Valley West) and Shannon Renner (BV Northwest). But Silva didn’t let a love for KU basketball sway her college decision.
“I’m a pretty die-hard Jayhawk fan,” Silva said. “I’m still pretty intense about them; I grew up watching Kansas basketball. So I guess I’m a pretty big fan.”
Four years later, it seems to have worked out. Silva can still root for Kansas basketball in the winter and help West Virginia soccer to titles in the fall.
“It’s a big-time university, people are crazy about their sports,” Silva said of West Virginia. “You get 1,500 fans to a women’s soccer game. You don’t get that anywhere.”
| Rustin Dodd, firstname.lastname@example.org