Women’s Soccer wins two, drops two

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With a 2-1-1 start to their season, the Mercer women’s soccer team was looking to continue adding wins to the board in the game against Alabama A&M on Friday, Aug. 31. They did just that with a shutout win of 6-0. The pace and play of the game was dominated by the Bears as they outshot the Lady Bulldogs 32-2 on the night. The Bears’ 32 shots were most in nearly a year when they had 34 against Alabama St. last season.
Sophomore Lauren Gassie continued to be a standout player by scoring a free kick just outside of the Lady Bulldogs’ box in the seventh minute. This goal would be Gassie’s third of the season, making her the Bears’ current leading scorer.  Alabama A&M’s goal-keeper was under high pressure while the Bears’ aggressive offense fired seven shots in the first 15 minutes of play.
To jump out to a 2-0 lead, a long cross from Gassie was deflected off an Alabama A&M defender into their own net, resulting in a goal in the 30th minute. For the duration of the first half, the Bears had a couple of close opportunities missed, ending the half with a 2-0 lead.
Throughout the second half, the Bears were able to overcome their struggle to find the scoring touch by taking control and scoring four more goals in the second half. With 17 shots in the period, the Bears finished looking much more confident and poised.
Going into the second half, the Bears looked to capitalize their lead. In the 65th minute, Sophomore MacKenzie Stewart scored her first goal of the season with a long shot over the keeper’s head after stealing the ball from an Alabama A&M player.
Not too long after extending the lead to 3-0, another goal was put on the board when Sophomore Rachel Buffalo found the back of the net with a chest pass assist from Senior Danielle Hesse.
A mere three minutes after Buffalo’s goal, Danielle Hesse crossed the ball into the box for Freshman Sydney Brogden to jump up and head passed the keeper into the goal. This would extend the Bears lead to an impressive score of 5-0.
Finally to finish the game in the 89th minute, Freshman Marissa Hartert stole the ball in the box, passed it up to classmate Kailey Bryan to shoot the final goal of the game.
During the game, 15 different Bears recorded a shot and all four of the Bears that scored in the second half garnered their first career goal.
Limiting only two shots total, the Bears’ defense came out looking very strong. Junior Nikki Atkinson started in the goal, but freshman Maggie Cropp finished out the second half.
Two days following the shutout win against Alabama A&M, the Bears traveled to Alabama where they had trouble finding the back of the net, leading to an unfortunate loss to the Crimson Tide with a score of 3-0.
Alabama outshot the Bears 30-10, even with the Bears offensive momentum coming off of the impressive 6-0 shutout against Alabama A&M.
The Bears’ offense started off looking pretty good when just 3 1/2 minutes in, Junior Casey Barrett took a shot forcing Alabama’s keeper, Shelby Church to make a save. Unfortunately, the Crimson Tide responded, and just over two minutes later, buried on into the back of the net.
Alabama’s Thersea Diederich forced a turnover in the Bears’ zone and put a nice touch on the ball that sailed over the outstretched arms of Nikki Atkinson making the score 1-0. Less than 10 minutes later, the Crimson Tide would capitalize again.
In the 15th minute, Alabama’s Pia Rijsdijk took a nice feed from the corner to shoot the ball into the back-post, extending the Crimson Tide lead to 2-0. After this goal, the Bears got off only one more shot to finish the half.
Mercer’s offensive chances were limited as Alabama continued to play an aggressive defense for the duration of the second half. This would be the first time this season that the Bears failed to secure a corner kick in a game. So far this season, the Bears have held a 40-4 advantage in corner kicks over their opponent. In this match-up, Alabama had the advantage, 8-0.
Alabama continued to capitalize their lead in the 66th minute when Rijsdijk scored her second of the match. After getting a nice cross from outside the box, Rijsdijk was able to head the ball to the goal after deflecting off of Mercer’s keeper, freshman Maggie Crop.
The final score of the day was an unfortunate 3-0, putting the Bears at a 3-2-1 start for the season.
The Bears’ losing streak continued on Friday, Sept. 7, against an in-state rival, Georgia State. The Panthers scored a goal in the 10th minute of Friday’s contest, and after a furious comeback attempt, the Bears fell just short to lose the match 1-0.
Although the final score doesn’t reflect their efforts, the Bears put up a tough fight against GSU. Mercer actually outshot the Panthers 12-5 on Friday, with 11 different players recording shots in the game, but just could not find the back of the net.
The Bears fell behind early in the first half when Georgia State’s Jordan Young put one in the goal off an assist by teammate Whitney Ravan. It was a nice shot from eight yards out into the upper near post and forced Mercer to play from behind from the start.
The Bears forced pressure on GSU’s defense by cranking out five shots in the period, however they walked into halftime trailing behind at 1-0.
The Bears were provided an opportunity to get back into the game with seven second half shots, five total corner kicks and 10 Georgia State penalties but GSU’s goalkeeper Rebecca Toler was able to make four saves and keep the Bears at a distance.
Ending the game with a loss of 1-0, the Bears knew that going into the next game, they would have to overcome their offensive struggles and find the back of the net on their home turf to add another win to their record.
“Despite these two losses, we still competed with our opponent. They were both solid teams and these games are only going to better prepare us for our more important conference games,” said Sophomore Washida Blackman.
“Once we can minimize our mental errors and execute, we’ll be able to turn what would be losses into wins and finish our season successfully,” Blackman added.
The Mercer women’s soccer team scored early which helped lead them to a 7-0 win over Alcorn State just two days after their unfortunate loss to Georgia State. The Bears’ seven goals is the most they have scored in a single game since downing South Carolina State 12-0 in 2004.
Little time was wasted as junior Nicole Young ran onto a loose ball and fired a shot from 40 yards away just under the crossbar and past the Alcorn State goalkeeper just three minutes into the game.
Two minutes later, sophomore Brianna Stampler had a long strike of her own to put the Bears at a lead of 2-0.
Sophomore Lauren Gassie found the back of the net from a cross pass from junior Jordan Sink which extended the lead 3-0.
In the final three minutes of the period, the Bears stepped up their offensive pressure by tallying three more goals. Sophomore MacKenzie Stewart along with sophomore Tess Patton and freshman Sydney Brogden all contributed to the Bears’ halftime lead of 6-0.
Lauren Gassie tallied her second goal of the day and team-leading fifth of the season in the second half with a shot to the lower left corner, assisted by Washida Blackman. This extended the lead to 7-0.
The Bears look to keep up this momentum in an away game against Jacksonville State on Friday, Sept. 14th.

Carley Innarino