Women's soccer begins conference play win 1-2 record

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Women's soccer begins conference play win 1-2 record

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The Mercer women’s soccer team got off to a slow start with conference play late last week as they dropped two of their first three games after closing out non-conference play with a win.

The Bears closed out non-conference play on Sept. 18 in Macon against Alabama State. The Bears set the pace early in the game when junior Danielle Hesse got Mercer on the board in the third minute. Mercer had a relentless first half, with Emerald Phillips scoring her third goal of the year with a shot from distance during the 17th minute. Hesse decided to try her own shot from distance during the 36th minute and shot from about 23 yards out, finding the back of the net for her second goal of the game.

Mercer continued their dominating performance by scoring their fourth goal of the first half during the 41st minute. Senior Kate Alderman slotted home her first goal of the season off a Mercer cross. Mercer’s fourth goal of the first half was indicative of Mercer’s dominating performance.

The Lady Bears created 21 shots during the first half while yielding zero to Alabama State. Despite the strong first half performance, Mercer was unable to find the net during the second half, and the game ended with a 4-0 score line.

Mercer kicked off conference play with a home game against Lipscomb on Sept. 23. Lipscomb came into the game playing well, and it wasn’t until midway through the first half that the Bears seemed to find their confidence. Washida Blackman broke the stalemate when she scored off of a corner kick in the 28th minute. Blackman’s goal was her second of the season and also the second straight game that Mercer scored off of a set piece. Olivia Tucker continued to build the confidence of the Mercer players when she doubled the team’s lead in the 44th minute with the calm finish of a deflected shot. The goal was Tucker’s sixth of the season. The Bears went into the break up 2-0, and came out playing in the second half like they wanted to finish the game early. Tucker did just that when she scored her second goal of the night during the 47th minute. Tucker’s goal came again off of a deflected shot. It was her eighth of the year. 

The Bears had another strong performance on defense, needing goalkeeper Cagney Valloch to make only three saves this game. Valloch recorded another clean sheet, as the Bears finished out the game 3-0 and improved to 7-2 on the year, with all of their wins also signaling shut out performances by their defense.

The Bears finished up their most recent home stand on Sept. 25 when they took on Belmont. The game was a very hard-fought affair that ended up needing overtime to resolve. Mercer was unable to create many opportunities during the match, notching only two shots on target the whole game, while Belmont managed to create five. The game winner was scored in the 97th minute when Belmont scored a ball that deflected off the Mercer crossbar.

The loss was Mercer’s first of conference play as the Bears fell to 7-3 (1-1) overall. When asked about his team’s opening performances for conference play, Coach Grant Serafy said, “I think it was disappointing when we are at the level we are at and have been at early in the season. We controlled the game, and it came down to one play and Belmont made it. We have to find players who can make plays.”

Mercer was looking to recover after a disappointing loss to Belmont when they took on UNF on Sept. 30. Attitudes were high going into the important weekend of conference play with Coach Serafy saying, “We are positive and upbeat. We know one loss won’t deter us from achieving our goals; we just don’t want to lose any more. We’ve had a very good two days of practice and we want to win the Atlantic Sun.”

Mercer and UNF had a very even match according to the stat line, with both teams having four shots on target, three and two corner kicks respectively, and a fairly equal amount of possession, but Mercer’s inability to finish scoring chances was the decisive factor in this game. Mercer went into the half-time mark down 1-0. Mercer was unable to find an early equalizer in the second half, and UNF doubled their lead in the 65th minute. The game opened up for UNF after scoring their second goal because Mercer pressed much higher to try to create scoring opportunities. UNF scored their third and fourth goals of the evening during the 83rd and 87th minutes respectively, finishing off an impressive performance for the Ospreys in which they converted all four of their shots on target. The game ended 4-0 and saw Mercer lose back-to-back games for only the second time this year.

Mercer will hope to build upon their 7-4 (1-2) record when they continue conference play over the next few weeks.

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