Women’s soccer upsets Alabama

The Mercer Women’s soccer team has taken on some of the toughest teams in the Southeastern Conference the past two weeks. Challenging the University of Georgia, the University of Alabama, Auburn University and the University of Tennessee, the Bears went 1-3 but remained competitive while taking on these top schools.

On Friday, Aug. 30 the Bears traveled to Athens, Ga. to take on the Georgia Bulldogs. This hard-fought game was lost on the Bears’ inability to stay offensive during the match. They were out-shot by Georgia 20-3.

Mercer goalkeeper Maggie Cropp made seven saves throughout the contest, but the Dogs still found the net three times in the match.

This loss didn’t rattle or shake the Bears; they were able to rally for their Sunday game against Alabama. Despite being the underdogs, the Black and Orange came out and upset the Crimson Tide on their home field with a score of 2-1.

Junior Lauren Gassie scored the first goal early in the match. Her goal was scored with an assist made by classmate Washida Blackman. Gassie scored only 4 minutes into the game, giving the Bears an immediate lead.

The Bears scored their second goal in the 26th minute of the first half. Blackman scored the second goal, with an assist credited to Gassie.

Cropp contributed five saves to this hard-fought win. She commented on the upset.

“It was great getting a result against an SEC opponent. We’ve been working really hard and it’s good to see it pay off.”

Mercer maintained the lead the entire match, and Alabama did not score until late in the second half. This victory over an SEC school was huge for the Bears. This marks a historical fifth win over an SEC school in program history, and the first SEC win since 1999.

The following week, the Bears traveled back to the state of Alabama to take on the Auburn Tigers. On Friday, Sept. 6, the Bears fell to Auburn in a 2-0 match.

The contest remained scoreless as the Bears’ defense battled to prevent Auburn from scoring. It was not until the second half that Auburn was able to score.

Auburn scored in the 55th minute of the match, and again in minute 74. The Bears were out-shot by the Tigers 18 to 6. Cropp had a season-high seven saves in the match.

Sunday, Sept. 8 concluded the series of SEC match-ups as Mercer took on the University of Tennessee’s Lady Vols at Bear Field. Unfortunately, the Bears dropped this game 2-0.

The Bears fought offensively, outshooting the Lady Vols 19-13, but were unable to pull out a win against Tennessee.

In minute 23, the Vols scored their first goal. Late in the second half, Tennessee scored their second and final goal in minute 88, sealing the win against the Bears.

Stephanie Giangiuli recorded a team high of four shots during the match. Cropp had five saves. Juniors Tess Patton and Lauren Gassie both got off three shots of their own. Gassie commented on the tough preseason competition.

“Playing four SEC schools was tough, but we were able to play well and get a winning result for one game. We know we did well and got unlucky on a few calls, especially in the Tennessee game.”

The Bears wanted challenging pre-season match-ups to better prepare them for conference play. Gassie continues, “This is going to prepare us physically for upcoming conference games. Playing faster and stronger teams will only help us win conference.”

The Bears will return to Bear Field Thursday, Sept. 12 to take on Charleston Southern University at 7 p.m.