Mercer Men’s and Women’s Soccer Previews
How will the Bears stack up against this year's opponents?
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2014 Southern Conference Soccer Coach of the Year Brad Ruzzo and his team had an impressive run in their debut season in the SoCon claiming the regular season championship.
Ruzzo also led the team to the SoCon Tournament final where a late goal by the Furman Paladins was enough to stop the Bears run towards the NCAA tournament.
Ruzzo made it clear that he is extremely pleased with the performance last season, he and his team are not looking back at what could have been.
Coach Ruzzo was very adamant that the team has its eyes set on silverware at the SoCon tournament and punching their ticket to the NCAA tournament. He also pointed out that the new incoming recruiting class is extremely talented. Ruzzo confirmed that two of the freshmen are possible starters this season.
Five players to keep an eye on this season include: Will Bagrou (Forward), Ian Antley (Defender), Jordan Duru (Midfielder), Airrion Blackstock (Defender), and Carson Brooks (Forward). When asked about key games this season, Ruzzo said that all home games are key games.
“We want this to be a place that is hard to play at and that other teams do not want to come to,” Russo said.
The coach also mentioned that while he wants the team to remain flexible in case of any injuries, the coaching staff has decided to keep the 3-5-2 system they ran last season to accommodate for the surplus of attacking talent in his squad.
The team is preparing for the season ahead as they look forward to kicking of the new season.
“The guys came in very prepared body-wise and I think we are very fit, it is probably one of my fittest groups I’ve ever had. In that regard, physically, we are in a good place… I’m pretty comfortable of where we are at,” Russo said.
Expectations are high as the roster is deep with talent.
The Mercer women’s soccer team is back after a great debut in the Southern conference in 2014.
Coach Tony Economopoulos and his team brought silverware back to Mercer after beating number one seeded Samford 2-1 to lift the 2014 SoCon trophy.
The team also had a short run in the NCAA tournament bowing out after a 3-0 loss to number two seed Florida.
For the upcoming season, Coach Economopoulos will look to adjust after losing ten seniors from his squad. However, he brought in a very strong recruiting class including players from soccer powerhouse states like California and Texas. Economopoulos did not hesitate to say that all seven freshmen are very talented high-level players. The preseason has taken its toll as one of the freshman girls is currently injured.
Economopoulos was adamant that his team does not rely on any one player or any small group of players. Instead, he insisted that his team works and plays for one another and that it is all a full team effort. He expects big things from Maggie Cropp (Goalkeeper), Alexius Hill (Forward), Haleigh Svede (Midfielder) and Maddie Clark (Forward) this season.
Economopoulos admitted that the conference season opener against the Citadel could carry a bit more weight as it can set the tone for the rest of the conference games.
Economopoulos expects his team to perform just as well as last season, but admits it will be tough as injuries and the loss of 10 seniors has changed the face of the roster.
“The team has been through an extensive preseason that has been very physically and technically challenging…” and added that “It is tough because we have injuries but our healthy players are fully prepared.”