After a 2010 season that saw the Mercer Bears Women’s Soccer team reach the NCAA tournament, many picked them as potential dark horses in the conference, if not frontrunners. Now, with two games left, the Bears are at 8-6-1 overall and 2-4-1 in Atlantic Sun Play, and they hold the sixth and final spot in the postseason tournament if they win out. With only three spots left and just one team eliminated from the 10 squads, the Bears look back at a first half of October to forget.
JU 1, Mercer 0 (2OT)
For the third time this season, the Bears lost in overtime, but this was a little more devastating to the girls, as the double overtime loss meant the Bears had a three game losing streak for the first time since September 2010. Jacksonville outshot Mercer 16-15, but it was not until the next to last minute of the second overtime that the Dolphins had success. Jacksonville’s Raquel Weckhurst chipped a shot over Mercer’s goalkeeper Cagney Valloch, who had three great saves prior. Mercer had nothing left after the first overtime period, in which five shots either sailed wide or were knocked away.
FGCU 1, Mercer 0
For the final homestand of the season, the Bears looked to rebound from the tough losses to conference foes. However, the Bears did not have an answer for FGCU and their 78th minute winner from Kayley Clay after a questionable period of play. Head Coach Grant Serafy had no excuses for his girls. When speaking with the Mercer Bears’ athletics website, he said, “[the Bears] have given away too many games…we have chances to win these games and it’s just been a lack of heart.” The Bears do need heart to make the playoffs at this point, as the loss to FGCU left them on the outside looking in for a playoff spot.
Stetson 2, Mercer 2 (2OT)
After a fourth straight loss, Mercer took the field on Parent Appreciation Night against the Stetson Hatters. For the fourth time this year, the Bears went to overtime. However, for the first time, the Bears walked away with a positive result. A draw gave the Bears new life in the Atlantic Sun table, for Olivia Tucker and Patricia Ann-Upson’s goals were the first ones since Sept. 23 for the Bears. Despite the late equalizer and an inability to find the net later on, the Bears put themselves in control of their own destiny. Stetson committed 30 fouls against the Bears, as they ruthlessly tried to leapfrog Mercer in the standings. It could not stop Tucker from her eighth goal of the season though, nor could it stop Upson’s header off an Emerald Phillips free kick. Coach Serafy continued to say his players needed “heart” and wants someone to step up and make plays. Also of note, Olivia Tucker’s 31st goal of her career continued her reign as the active leader in goals scored in the Atlantic Sun.
Mercer 1, Kennesaw St. 0
After three weeks without a victory, the Mercer Bears won their final home game of the season, a 1-0 decision over the Kennesaw State Owls. The Bears had to win this match, and they did indeed. The win on Senior Night bid a good farewell to a talented group of Mercer seniors. This is the second straight win for the Bears over the Owls after dropping their first seven meetings. Washida Blackman’s 31st header secured it alongside great defense from the Bears.
The Mercer Bears Women’s Soccer have a very tough task ahead of them in their final two games. On Oct. 21, the Bears travel to Spartanburg, S.C. to play USC-Upstate. The Trojans are winless in Atlantic Sun play, but this does not mean they are going to be an easy match for the Bears. Mercer did win 2-1 at home last year, but the recent wins over VMI and Alabama State in Spartanburg will help give the Trojans confidence. The Bears will also have to look out for Michelle Calmeyn, who has 20 shots on goal and three goals on the year.
Just two days later, the Bears will be in Johnson City, Tenn. as they take on their arch-rival East Tennessee State Bucs. The Bears control their destiny to finish sixth in the conference, but they must win versus an opponent that has two scorers in the double digits: Genna Petersen and Jenna Caudle. While Mercer won last season’s match-up, the Bucs are undefeated in conference play at 6-0 as of Oct.14. Mercer wins, and they’re in. A loss in any game will mean that they need help with other results to continue their season a week later in the Atlantic Sun conference tournament.