The Mercer men’s soccer team embarks on their season this fall as players begin reporting for preseason camp on Tuesday.
Mercer hosts both Winthrop and Georgia Southern respectively for their own preseason tournaments Sept. 13 and 15. The 2013 season will include 20 games, six of which are against top-100 teams.
After last season, the Bears finished with their best record in almost 10 years. Although ending last season in a devastating championship loss, the Bears are looking to bounce back strong this season. The toughness of their schedule is evident and will prove challenging as the Bears face many 2012 NCAA tournament participants.
With seven strong returners taking the field, the Bears are predicted to have another successful season this fall. Despite the challenges of the schedule for this 2013 season, the Mercer men’s soccer team appears eager and ready.
During the 2012 season, the Bears were heavily watched and received high regional rankings several times. During the week of Oct. 2, the Bears ranked sixth in the region, a program high. The Bears were ranked among the NSCAA South regional poll during five weeks in the 2012 season.
Senior Brady O’Brien expressed his growing excitement for the upcoming season.
“We’re all very anxious to get the season underway headed into preseason with a strong group of returning players coming back and the addition of our upcoming freshman class,” said O’Brien.
O’Brien explains that he and his teammates have very strong expectations for this 2013 season.
O’Brien was a key player in the strong defense of the Bears that only allowed 18 goals scored all last season. By appearing in every contest of the 2012 season, O’Brien proved to be a strong leader for the team. O’Brien totaled four points last season off of one goal against in-state rival Georgia State and two assists versus UNC Ashville and Lipscomb.
Fifth year senior Joey Heavner is another notable player for the Mercer team who has had great success. Due to injury, Heavner was forced to red shirt last season, but will rejoin the Bears for the 2013 season.
During his junior season in 2011, Heavner received such honors as A-Sun player of the week, A-Sun All Tournament Team, A-Sun 2nd team All-Conference, All-Academic, as well as being named NSCAA Scholar All-South Region honorable mention group. Having Heavner back on the field will have the Bears back in full force for the 2013 season.
Heavner explained that he is ecstatic for his return to the field.
“I am unbelievably excited just thinking about getting to play again,” he said.
After spending the whole summer rehabilitating, he believes that he is ready to compete again with the same goals.
“The goal for us is always a conference championship and to play in the NCAA tournament,” said Heavner.
Other notable returners include junior goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh who was named A-Sun Conference Defensive Player of the Week three times in the 2013 season as well as A-Sun second team All-Conference.
Senior Ryan King will be another key contributor to the upcoming season. Last year, King received such honors as, the A-Sun All-Conference second team, A-Sun Conference All-Academic team, NSCAA Scholar All-South Region second team and an A-Sun All-Academic Honoree.
This year the team is approaching preseason differently and going to Jekyll Island for their preseason camp.
“We’re excited for preseason at Jekyll island. It’ll be a great opportunity to bond and train hard in preparation for the season,” said Heavner.
The team appears to be full of great talent, and should have another great season this fall. The Bears begin competition on Sunday, Aug. 18, in an exhibition match at University of South Carolina.