After announcing a spring schedule that included Florida in Gainesville, UNC Charlotte and South Carolina in Columbia as well as Clemson, GCSU and Georgia State at Bear Field, Mercer’s women’s soccer team took to the pitch against Florida at the University of Florida’s lacrosse/soccer complex on Feb. 19.
The Atlantic Sun Champions would not encounter much success on the day against the team that eliminated them for the NCAA Tournament. The Florida Gators completely dominated Mercer, winning the rematch 6-0. A year ago, the Mercer Bears marched into Gainesville and upset the SEC powerhouse, but it was not the case this past weekend. The Bears saw four different Gators score on them: Maggie Rodgers, Taylor Travis, Lindsay Thompson and Tahnai Annis. Annis and Thompson each had a brace, scoring twice.
In other news, Mercer was able to sign six great recruits for next season. Midfielder Brianna Stampler will provide a great support role for attack, and she knows how to move the ball around well. She was on one of the better club teams in Florida and she has gained a significant amount of experience against quality opponents this way. Forward MacKenzie Stewart, a Colorado native, excelled in the 4-4-2 and 4-3-3. Also, she lead her high school team in goals with ten as a junior. Stewart is tough and showed immense fortitude against aggressive defenders.
Those familiar with Peru’s Juan Manuel Vargas will really enjoy the acquisition of Maryland’s Stephanie Gianguili, a midfielder who can also play forward with her great finishing ability. She leaves her high school as career leader in goals and assists, with 45 and 19 respectively. She also has international experience against teams in Sweden and Denmark. She will be a gem for Mercer’s team to have as she is very unselfish with the ball.
Lauren Gassie is someone who can play “total football.” She excels as a left back and as an attacking midfielder and is a tireless worker. The captain of her team, Gassie was teammates with a fellow Mercer signee, Rachel Buffalo. Buffalo, a terrific central defender, will benefit Mercer’s team as both individuals show great chemistry and technical ability. The two Floridians will fit well with the Bears’ style of play.
Finally, Georgia native Washida Blackman from Brookwood High School rounds out this year’s signing class. The forward can be a winger or striker, and her cool nature in front of goal will be a great addition to a team that needs goals once in a while. These six recruits will be attempting to fill in for a senior class that has seen two conference championships in their time at Mercer.