After three wins and a tie, the Mercer women’s soccer team extended their undefeated streak as they shutout visiting team University of South Carolina Upstate on Friday, Sept. 28th at Bear Field. This would be the Bears’ first conference win of the season.
The Bears showed up for the game sporting their new pink uniforms. It was the team’s annual “Pink Out” game to support breast cancer awareness month. Several breast cancer survivors were on honored throughout the game.
It was evident that Bears had the upper hand in the matchup. They started off fast and maintained impressive offensive pressure for the duration of the game. The Bears tallied up 22 shots while their defense limited the Spartans to just three.
Sophomore Lauren Gassie once again was a pivotal offensive threat when she tallied her team-leading sixth goal of the season just one minute into the game. Gassie took the corner kick and curved in to find the back of the net.
The Bears extended their lead twelve minutes later when sophomore transfer Tess Patton scored her second of the season. Junior Nadja Kolliesuah sent the ball deep into the Spartans’ corner to Sophomore Washida Blackman who fed the ball just inside the Upstate box. This allowed Patton to burry the ball into the goal to give the Bears a 2-0 lead.
Both teams battled for the duration of the half on the slippery field, but the score remained 2-0 at the end of the period.
It didn’t take long for the Bears to execute in the second half. Patton extended the lead to 3-0 within the first ten minutes of the period. Senior Danielle Hesse made a nice individual run at the top of the 18 and cranked on a well-struck shot that the Upstate keeper was able to save. Patton found the ball off of the rebound and buried it in for the final goal of the game.
The final score was 3-0, but the Bears were not finished competing this weekend. On Sunday, Mercer hosted East Tennessee State to finish up the weekend strong with another win.
Patton continued to be a standout player by tallying another goal and an assist in the 3-1 win over ETSU. After only a minute of play, Hesse made a long cross from the near side allowing Patton to head the ball into the net and give the Bears a quick 1-0 lead.
Once again, Mercer dominated the game offensively. The Bears earned nine shots in the first half while the Lady Bucs were limited to just three.
In the 31st minute, ETSU was able to tie up the game off of a free kick from a foul called on the Bears. ETSU’s Samantha Kron was able to bend a ball over the top of the Bears’ wall and past the outstretched arms of junior keeper Nikki Atkinson.
Right before the conclusion of the first half, the Bears gained back their momentum. Patton set up a Mercer free kick and sent a ball that struck the cross bar. It bounced off perfectly for senior P.A. Upson to head into the goal. It was Upson’s first of the year. The Bears got back the lead with a score of 2-0.
In the second half, the Lady Bucs had many valiant attempts at earning another goal, but they were unable to get the ball past freshman keeper Maggie Cropp who took over in the half and made three saves.
In the 70th minute, Hesse put more one in the goal to secure the lead. She struck a long ball from the top of the box that sailed into the far upper corner of the net. Sophomore Brianna Stampler assisted Hesse in the goal.
With the 3-1 win over the Lady Bucs, the Bears were now tied for second place in the A-Sun standings and had a record of 8-3-2. The next contest would be on the road against Lipscomb where they competed through two overtimes but could not jump ahead. The teams drew a 0-0 tie on Friday, Oct. 5th.
The Bears outshot the Lady Bison 23-2 and held an 11-2 advantage in corner kicks at the end of the long 110 minutes. Although Mercer dominated in the offensive statistics, the conclusion of the game resulted in an undesirable tie, yet extended the A-Sun’s longest unbeaten streak to seven games.
Seven different Mercer players had shots in the game with midfielder P.A. Upson tallying up a game-high seven shots in the contest. Eight of the Bears’ shots were on goal, and Libscomb’s keeper was able to make all eight saves.
After the disappointing tie, the Bears wanted to finish off the weekend on a high note and get a win. They continued their travels to Northern Kentucky and extended their unbeaten streak to eight games in the 1-0 shutout on Sunday.
This was the first time that the Bears and Norse met up as conference opponents. The Mercer win moved them into a two-way tie for second place in the league standings.
To continue a recent trend of scoring early on in the game, midfielder Danielle Hesse put one in the goal in the fourth minute. This was Hesse’s fourth of the season, and surpassed her career season high in the process.
For the first time in the last ten games, Mercer was unable to outshoot their opponent. NKU outshot the Bears 15-14, but with the Bears formidable offense, they were able to earn the necessary goal along with the defense keeping the Norse from scoring.
Goalkeeper Maggie Cropp made six key saves in the shutout, which was only one short of her career high.
After defeating the Norse, Mercer has now shutout seven opponents this season, only three shy of what they accomplished last season.
There are only four games remaining in the regular season. Mercer is on the road this coming weekend in Jacksonville, Florida looking for wins against North Florida University and Jacksonville University to clinch a tournament seed.