In an unfortunate loss to the No. 17 team South Florida on Oct. 10, the Mercer men’s soccer teams’ four-game winning streak came to an end.
USF proved to be the more dominant team for the duration of the first half until Mercer regrouped at halftime. Throughout the second half, Mercer nearly netted several times for the tie, but could not seem to find the goal.
Goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsing kept the game scoreless by saving a shot from a USF player in the 11th minute.
The Bulls kept up the offensive pressure and struck for the only goal of the match just minutes later off of a shot just outside of the 18-yard line into the upper-left 90 of the net. This goal gave USF the lead in the 17th minute of the first half, 1-0.
In the second half, Mercer came out determined to score. Sophomore Ashani Samuels intercepted a pass and fed a long ball to freshman Jason Sayers, who ran onto the attempt and fired a shot that was tipped wide by the USF keeper in the 54th minute of play. The score remained 1-0.
The Bears had another chance in the 73rd minute when senior Josh Shutter collected a deflection and launched a shot just over the crossbar.
In the 87th minute of play, Shutter sent in a free kick from midfield that freshman Juan Jose Morales back-flicked on the net but was pushed just wide by the USF keeper once again to seal the win for South Florida.
After losing to USF, the Mercer men’s soccer team was hungry for a win. The Bears traveled to Jacksonville, Fla. to beat the North Florida Ospreys, giving them a perfect Atlantic Sun Conference record of 4-0-0. This is the first time that Mercer has been 4-0-0 in an A-Sun Conference play since 2002.
The first half was a pretty even match-up. Both teams got off shots, but the Bears put one on the scoreboard first. Junior Ehjayson Henry fed a ball through to senior Sharpe Sablon, who avoided the UNF goalkeeper and slipped a shot into the back of the net, giving Mercer a 1-0 lead in the 19th minute of play.
From then on, the Bears maintained offensive pressure and almost increased their lead, but the attempted goal off of a header from freshman Will Jones was saved by the North Florida goalkeeper. There were no more goals scored for the remainder of the half.
Mercer continued to control the game offensively during the second half, yet at a slower pace by working the ball around the back line and midfield.
UNF began to fight back, but the Bears responded by putting more points on the board in the last six minutes of play.
Mercer increased their lead to 2-0 when freshman Jason Sayers collected a failed corner kick clearance and fired a shot that was redirected by Henry and in for a goal in the 85th minute.
Just moments later, the Bears put the game out of reach for the Ospreys when Sayers started a one-man counter attack and laid off a ball to junior Ryan King who ripped an attempt past the UNF goalkeeper and inside the far post, making the final score 3-0.
Mercer keeper Greg Ranjitsingh made two saves in the match, earning his A-Sun leading seventh shutout of the season. Ranjitsingh is now tied for the most shutouts in program history, and the sixth-most shutouts in the Atlantic Sun Conference history.
In hopes to finish the weekend with one more win, the Mercer Bears traveled across town to Jackson University on Saturday, Oct. 20. Despite their tenacious efforts, the Bears fell to the Dolphins 2-1.
Mercer out-shot Jacksonville 26-10 and held a superior 11-0 advantage in corner kicks, but lost for just the third time in its last 13 games.
Although Mercer dominated offensively having a 10-5 advantage in shots for the first half, Jacksonville got on the board first early. A shot by JU was fired from 25 yards out that beat Ranjitsingh inside the far post to give the Dolphins a 1-0 lead in the 17th minute of play.
Mercer refused to let up and finally their aggressive play paid off in the 78th minute. Junior Ryan King ripped a shot on the net that was blocked by the JU keeper, but sophomore Carl-Oscar Andersson was there for the rebound and slid a shot into the goal to tie the game up at 1-1.
However, the Dolphins responded quickly and retook the lead for good merely 34 seconds later. JU let off a shot from left field that beat Ranjitsingh and sealed the win for the Dolphins.
There are only three games left in the regular season for the Mercer men’s soccer team. The Bears will host Northern Kentucky on Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. on Bear Field.