By: John Krenger
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
If you’re at a Kansas women’s soccer game and think you should see an optometrist, just know you’re not the only one seeing double.
And Kansas head coach Mark Francis is happy to have double vision.
The reason for the illusion is a set of freshmen twins - Kortney and Kelsey Clifton from Wichita, Kan. The identical twins have distinguished themselves despite their similarities.
On the field, Kortney and Kelsey can be distinguished by their uniform numbers and their positions - Kortney (No. 5) is a forward, Kelsey (No. 4) an attacking midfielder. Off the field, there are some subtle differences.
“Our personalities are kind of opposite because off the field I’m the more outgoing one and she is the more shy one,” Kelsey said. “On the field, she is the goal scorer.”
Kortney, a forward and considered the older twin, is the Kansas high school all-time leading goal scorer with 256 goals. She also holds the state record for single-season goals with 80. Her scoring ability has carried over to college; she leads Kansas in shooting percentage and is third on the team with four goals.
Kelsey, an attacking midfielder, was a high school all-state selection for three straight years. As a Jayhawk, she has played in all but one game and recorded her first goal several weeks ago against No. 18 University of Central Florida.
“They’re both quick and like to take people on,” Francis said. “They are both good athletes and work really hard.”
The twins grew up Jayhawk fans and attended Kansas soccer camps every summer for years. Kelsey and Kortney were always a package deal and committed to the Jayhawks as high school sophomores.
“Even at a young age, you could see that they were dynamic,” said Francis, who admits he has a difficult time telling the twins apart. “And obviously, Kelsey and Kortney are two that we have liked a lot and were fortunate to get.”
In recent games, Kelsey and Kortney have substituted-in for one another.
Despite competing for minutes, the Clifton twins embrace the opportunity to watch each other play.
“A lot of times, I do catch myself only watching her,” Kelsey said. “Of course when she does something good, I catch myself being louder and cheering louder than I do for anyone else.”
“I watch her a lot,” Kortney said. “It’s also because I play the same position as her. I like to see what she is doing well and copy that.”
The twins admitted that the biggest adjustment to the collegiate game was the quickness and competitiveness of play. The transition, however, has been smooth.
“Kortney has played a little more and has been a little more productive,” Francis said. “But once Kelsey got that first goal out of the way, she’s been a lot more confident. They have both made the adjustment to the college game pretty quickly.”
Their quick adjustment to the faster-paced game has helped the Jayhawks to an 8-4 record, not to mention an offensive up-grade. Kansas scored 23 goals in 21 games last season. This season, the Jayhawks have 26.
Kortney and Kelsey credit one another for their successful transition into Big 12 play.
“The best part of having a twin is always having someone there for you,” Kortney said. “Going to college is hard to leave your family, so it’s nice to have a family member here.”
“The best thing (about having a twin) is being with someone you’re comfortable with in a new environment,” said Kelsey. “We’re pretty used to each other.”