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Men’s soccer to face Coastal Carolina in NCAA Tournament

Courtesy of Mercer Athletics

Courtesy of Mercer Athletics

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When it mattered most, they found a way to win. Mercer men’s soccer has experienced more than its fair share of close games this season, boasting a whopping 13 overtime appearances since August.

In the first 11 overtime games, the Bears won only two of them; they finished with a 1-6-4 record in extra-time outings.

But they won the final two. Mercer bested No. 1-seed ETSU in the Southern Conference semifinals after winning penalty kicks 4-3. The Bears then defeated No. 2-seed UNCG in the final after winning penalty kicks 3-2.

Head coach Brad Ruzzo said the team has played really well the last three weeks, despite three overtime losses right before the conference tournament.

“There were three results late in the season that didn’t go our way and we were able to use that for the SoCon Tournament,” Ruzzo said via mercerbears.com. “We were able to use the drive to prove we were the best team in the conference, because we thought we were. I do believe we are playing really well right now and I am looking forward to us continuing that.”

The Bears will have a chance to maintain that momentum Thursday. They will face Coastal Carolina in Conway, SC, at 7 p.m. in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Bears are led by Will Bagrou’s 12 goals on the season along with goalkeeper Jeremy Booth, who was named the 2017 SoCon Tournament Most Outstanding Player for the second consecutive year.

It is Mercer’s second straight NCAA tournament bid after winning the Southern Conference last season. The Bears lost to South Carolina 1-0 last year in the first round.

Ruzzo said they still remember that feeling and are excited for another opportunity this year.

“We have done some scouting on [Coastal Carolina] already and we have an idea about the team,” Ruzzo said. “We are looking forward to going up there, finding out a bit more about them and looking to advance.”

 

Editor’s note — Initially, we wrote that the record was 2-6-4. It’s been corrected to read 1-6-4

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Men’s soccer to face Coastal Carolina in NCAA Tournament