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Mursuli has big cleats to fill

Cristina+Mursuli+kicking+the+ball+out+of+the+goal+zone+at+the+Women%27s+Soccer+match+against+Oklahoma+State+on+August+21s.
Cristina Mursuli kicking the ball out of the goal zone at the Women's Soccer match against Oklahoma State on August 21s.

Cristina Mursuli kicking the ball out of the goal zone at the Women's Soccer match against Oklahoma State on August 21s.

Courtesy of Judy Stapleton

Courtesy of Judy Stapleton

Cristina Mursuli kicking the ball out of the goal zone at the Women's Soccer match against Oklahoma State on August 21s.

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The face minding the net for the Mercer Bears women’s soccer team this season is new, but not unfamiliar.

Cristina Mursuli is Mercer’s new full-time keeper, but she has plenty of experience with the program, including being on the team in 2014 when they brought home a Southern Conference Championship. She has even bigger plans for this year.

“My goal for women’s soccer is to win conference, make it to the conference tournament, win the conference tournament, and make our mark in the NCAA tournament,” she said.

Mursuli has played in 15 games for the Bears from 2013-15, including two starts in 2014. Her career history has included 47 saves, three shutout appearances, and at the end of the 2015 season, she ranked fourth on Mercer’s career goals-against average leaderboard with a 1.59 GAA, according to statistics from Mercer Athletics.

Mursuli is replacing Maggie Cropp, who holds the Southern Conference’s all-time record with a .82 goals-against average. By the time her Mercer career was over, Cropp had posted 14 wins and had five shutouts in two different seasons.

“I definitely have big shoes to fill. We have a new volunteer on staff, Connor Terry, who is just working with us so I think that I’ll get the proper training I need,” Mursuli stated.

During the offseason, Mursuli said that she kept in contact with coaches at her club team, Eclipse, back home in Chicago. She trains with them and does workouts on her own. The whole team also comes to Mercer for a camp where they all work out together in order to prep.

Mursuli ended up over 800 miles from her home after receiving a soccer scholarship from Mercer.  

One of the former coaches at her home soccer club, Eclipse, went to college with Mercer women’s soccer head coach Tony Economopoulos.

He traveled to Illinois to watch her play, liked what she was doing and they talked about her possibly going to Mercer. As she said, it all worked out.  

Some of Mursuli’s highlights from the 2016 season include a 6-0 shutout against Alabama A&M in which she had four saves and a 4-0 shutout against Presbyterian College.

As a senior, looking back on her past three years with women’s soccer, Mursuli said her best game was when she split halves with Cropp, in the pre-season Auburn game last year. Cropp played the first half, while Mursuli played the second half.

“I kept a shutout and then we ended up winning the game. It was a huge win for us and a good step going forward. It showed that we were ready to go.”

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Mursuli has big cleats to fill