Katie Cramer 2

Kansas State’s Katie Cramer (20) celebrates after scoring a goal against Oakland last season. Cramer and K-State will play their first game at Buser Family Park at 7 p.m. Thursday, hosting Arkansas State.

Up until this year, Kansas State Soccer had gone three years without its own stadium. This season marks the first the team will play in Buser Family Park.

K-State’s debut at the new stadium will come Thursday, when it hosts Arkansas State at 7 p.m.

Senior forward and team captain Katie Cramer said the team is “excited” to finally have a place to call home.

“People know who we are now,” Cramer said. “That says a lot, because when you walk around people know what K-State soccer is. They see our big building. They know who we are, and it makes you just want to get out there and play even more.”

Cramer, who scored two goals in Friday’s season-opening 3-2 loss at Creighton, isn’t the only player excited to step foot inside Buser Park. Junior midfielder Brookelynn Entz said playing in the brand-new facility is going to be “crazy.”

“Even practicing there, you see the shadow of the huge stadium on the field and it’s like ‘Woah,’” Entz said. “It just makes it so much more real and so much more big-time and more of a professional environment that we get to play in. So it’s even more fun.”

Cramer is part of the first senior class to go through every season with the program, in its fourth year this fall. She said knowing she is part of the program’s foundation is humbling.

“It’s a really special feeling to know that I helped build this program,” Cramer said. “When I came here, I was on the very first team and (I’ve) seen not only how our team has grown, but our facilities, too.”

K-State has the youngest soccer program in the Big 12, and has struggled through growing pains the past three years. The last two seasons, the team has finished last in the conference and failed to qualify for the Big 12 tournament.

Despite the team’s lackluster record, Entz said the team’s goals this year are higher than years past.

“We want to get in the top five of the Big 12,” she said, “and that means making the tournament.”

Entz said the construction of Buser Park “has parallels” with how quickly the team has grown.

“I think it’s going a lot faster than people expected,” Entz said. “I heard we are like three years early or something, so I think that is a testimony to our program. I think that we’re building it and coming into competition a lot quicker than people expected.”

Head coach Mike Dibbini said he’s noticed a little extra buzz around the players this season, being the first in their new home.

Dibbini said the team is excited to finally play in the new stadium and share the experience with their fans.

“It’s very impactful for not only the student-athletes but the fan experience, the gameday experience, you name it,” Dibbini said. “It brings a great feeling to know we have a home now that we can perform in front of the greatest fans in the Big 12.”

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