Bears showed promise, fight in 2010

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In the preparations for any new season, a team has to look to the past in order to prepare for the future. With the fall sports season for your Mercer Bears’ teams just around the corner, here is a recap on their last outings.
VOLLEYBALL
2010 was an interesting year for the Mercer Bears volleyball squad. They finished 6-4 in the Atlantic Sun and 14-18 overall, but that was never a sure thing after the truly abysmal start. They dropped six straight matches to open the season and did not even win a set until their sixth match of the season at the Mercer Bear Brawl.
Mercer came back home after the North Carolina State Tournament at 2-10 and needing some change of pace. After an 0-2 start in Atlantic Sun play left them at 6-14 overall, the Bears came home to win eight of their last twelve matches, including a season sweep of Florida A&M. The Bears were 9-3 when at the University Center, but were 5-15 away from home and an ugly 3-8 in true road games. The Bears dropped the first game in the A-Sun tournament to Belmont, ending their season earlier than preferred. 2011 looks to be on the up and up, as six new recruits look to impact the underperforming squad.
MEN’S SOCCER
Growth and success continued in 2010 for Coach Brad Ruzzo’s boys, as the Mercer men continued their rapid rise atop the Atlantic Sun conference. They were sixth in 2008, fifth in 2009 with a berth in the conference championship game, and third a year ago. Based on 2010, they have been predicted to finish fifth again, but those predictions have proven to be misjudged for the Bears. They finished 5-4 in the Atlantic Sun and 10-6-1 overall. They were impressively 4-2 at home, 5-4-1 on the road and 1-0 in neutral games. They dropped the first game of the season on the road, but would rattle off a six-game unbeaten streak before going 5-5 the rest of the season, including a disappointing loss to Jacksonville in the first round of the A-Sun tournament. Nevertheless, that game was only possible with the three-game winning streak that Mercer went on to end the season. The offense was robust, outscoring their opponents 27-20 on the year and 13-11 in the conference regular season. They also beat nationally ranked Alabama-Birmingham on the road. Mercer averaged 381 fans per game last year. This is a promising sign that the team will be well-supported in years to come.
WOMEN’S SOCCER
After an incredible run that culminated with a berth in the NCAA Tournament, the Mercer Bears women’s soccer team had a fantastic 2010 season. They were only 10-9-1 overall, but a 7-3 record in A-Sun play helped give them a great seeding in the conference tournament. They took that great seeding and turned it into a 5-0 thrashing of Stetson and then outlasted Jacksonville in the final to get a berth in the NCAA Women’s College Cup. A first round exit at the hands of national powerhouse Florida is the building block for the future. They had a six-game winning streak snapped as well. At any rate, it was a great end to a season that, despite an opening win over rival Georgia Southern, endured a six-match winless streak to begin their season. Those fortunes changed in conference play. With a good portion of the team coming back and some electric new recruits in tow, this squad of ladies has high hopes for 2011.
CROSS COUNTRY
2010 was a good year for many Mercer teams, and cross country was no exception. The men and women both qualified for the NCAA South Regional, ensuring that the runners would continue to improve and compete on a national level. The men finished 16th and the women 21st, beating teams like Memphis, Central Florida, South Alabama, Tennessee Tech and Miami. It was truly a great year in intercollegiate competition, as the men finished fourth and the women finished fifth at the University of Georgia Invitational. Both squads finished seventh at the A-Sun Championships as well. The young squads have a lot to build off for the future, including sweeping the Mercer Runfit Sports Invitational last fall.
GOLF
The Mercer Bears Golf squads had great results with a fourth place finish for the men, passing four teams on the final day of competition at the A-Sun championships. They were spearheaded by freshman Hans Reimers, who finished second overall. Their final round play was both a school and conference record. The squad finished with several top-20 finishes. This season also saw several Bears named to All-Conference teams. On the women’s side, they were disappointed to only finish sixth at the conference championships, but it was definitely a long climb from past seasons, especially with a young squad. They performed well during the season as this will bode well for the future. A good note is the far margin of victory over the bottom half of the table.

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