Women's Soccer looks to clinch no.2 seed in tournament

The Mercer Women’s Soccer team is approaching the end of their regular season with only two contests left, fighting for entrance and a high seed in the conference tournament. Only two teams have clinched birth in the championships thus far.  In first place is Florida Gulf Coast and in second place is Jacksonville.

Mercer is currently ranked third in the conference standings with a 4-2-1 conference record and a total of 13 points. The Bears have yet to face University of North Florida and Jacksonville University in conference play.

With the conference tournament right around the corner, the pressure to clinch and seed well is on. In previous seasons, women’s soccer has excelled in the conference championships, making it to the finals each of the last three years, with a championship victory in 2010.

The Bears just concluded their final home games of the season facing Kennesaw St., Florida Gulf Coast, and then Stetson University, where they recognized the seniors as they played in their last home game. The Bears went 2-1 on their last three games.

On Friday, Oct. 11, the Bears defeated Kennesaw State in a huge double overtime victory, with a final score of 2-1.

This game was their annual “Dig Pink” game. The team sported pink jerseys as a tribute to the awareness of breast cancer, and sold t-shirts to donate to research.

Goals by sophomore Kim Murphy and freshman Haleigh Svede led to the win.

This triumph over an instate conference rival breaks a head-to-head tie in conference record between Mercer and Kennesaw putting the Bears above the Owls in rankings.

Friday, Oct. 18, was another grudge match for The Bears. The rivalry between Mercer and FGCU is as big for women’s soccer as in any sport. In both of the 2012 and 2011 seasons, Mercer fell to Gulf Coast in the conference finals.

        In preparation for the match junior Captain Washida Blackman contributes, “In recent years FGCU has been our main competitor. Each game between us is very close, but we have yet to get the result we want hopefully that changes tonight.”

        Although the result was not in favor of the Bears, they fought hard in the game.          They dropped the game to FGCU 3-1. Blackman scored The Bear’s only goal in the effort.

The Bears completed their home season Sunday, Oct. 20, in their “Senior Day” match versus the Stetson Hatters. The Bears received a 2-1 win over Stetson, celebrating the careers of five seniors.

Seniors Nikki Atkinson, Casey Barrett, Nadja Kolliesuah, Sadie Curry and Jordan Sink were all honored before the game. All of the seniors except for Kolliesuah were able to start in the game to end their at-home careers in a win (Kolliesuah was unable to play because of a season ending knee injury that she acquired three weeks prior).

Curry and Murphy scored to seal the 2-1 over Stetson.

Ecstatic about the win, Curry comments, “It felt amazing. All of our teammates worked so hard to make us feel loved, our families were all there and our coaches even had us all start together.”

Curry continues, “Scoring and being able to help the team get an important win just completed the perfect senior day.”

Barrett, a consistent starter throughout her four years on the team comments, “Since it was the seniors’ last game at Bear Field, we were fully prepared for a lot of sentimentality, but our teammates and everyone made the whole day incredible. We were too busy smiling and laughing to be sad. Leaving Bear Field on that note, it was just really inspiring to know that that’s who we’ve been through the years and hopefully will continue to be in the years to come.”

Mercer Women’s Soccer has a recent history of great postseason play, and have made it to the Conference Championship the last three years, winning the title in 2010.

“This is our last year in the Atlantic Sun there are several goals we’d like to accomplish” states Blackman as the road to the tournament continues.

Another trip to the championships is one of the goals the team always pushes for, and the potentiality to be ranked second going in is a realistic possibility.

Curry adds, “We need to win both games this weekend in order to go into the tournament ranked second and have a bye in the first round. I think we all know we need to go into next weekend ready and try our best to get results.”

Barrett says that Jacksonville and North Florida are beatable teams, and that they need to take advantage of the opportunity that they have to win and go into the conference tournament with a high seed.

“We feel confident in our ability to take it to Jacksonville and North Florida, and hopefully take second in the regular season. However these games end up, we’re looking forward to the conference tournament, this season is especially important to us because it’s our last chance to win the A-Sun title, and we want to take it and run,” said Barrett.

The Bears are headed to Jacksonville, Fla., on Friday, Oct. 25, looking for wins against UNF and JU.