Despite their disappointing season-ending loss in the Atlantic Sun Championship, there were many high notes this season for the Mercer women’s soccer team.
This season was arguably one of the best seasons in program history. Not only was their record outstanding, but six players racked up personal accolades as well. Junior defender Devon Fry, senior midfielder Patricia-Anne Upson, freshman goalkeeper Maggie Cropp, sophomore forward Tess Patton, sophomore midfielder Lauren Gassie and senior midfielder Patricia-Anne Upson were all honored with Atlantic Sun awards.
Fry and Upson were named to the All-Atlantic Sun First Team while Cropp and Patton picked up second team honors. Upson was also honored for her hard work off the field along with Gassie and Hesse. They were named to the Academic All-Atlantic Sun Conference team for excelling in their schoolwork. The Bears led the entire A-Sun by having three representatives on the All-Academic Conference Team.
“Our team chemistry is strong and organized, which allowed us to do so well this season,” said Gassie when asked about her and her teammates success. “As a captain and senior, PA [Upson] was a dominant leader on and off the field. She was named first team due to her nonstop hard work and dedication for the game. Devon [Fry] was also named first team as a defender. She organized our back line and held our team chemistry together throughout the year as a voice in the defense.”
Fry and Upson helped guide the Bears to one of the best defenses not only in the A-Sun, but also in the nation. Mercer ended the regular season leading the A-Sun and was 16th best in goals against average in the country. Upson commented on her spectacular defensive efforts.
“I have always believed that the best way to be a leader is to lead by example. I tried to live my life on and off the field in a way that would help my team be successful.”
Cropp was also a big factor in this incredible average. She carried the lowest goals against average in A-Sun history and also leads the nation in this category. She only allowed three goals all season and just two in conference play, leading the A-Sun in both save percentage and goals against average.
Gassie, Hesse, and Patton ended up leading the team in goals, racking up six this season.
The Bears’ overall record this season was 13-5-3, 6-1-2 in conference. This would be the best record for the women’s soccer team in Mercer history. It seemed as though the Orange and Black were going to go undefeated in conference this year, but Florida Gulf Coast got the best of them in both the regular season conference championship and a second time in the A-Sun Championship.
“As disappointing as the loss was I couldn’t ask for a better team to end my career with,” said Upson. “These girls worked hard every day and gave it everything they had until the last minute. We had an amazing season, we broke the record for most wins. I look forward to watching these girls be even more successful in the future.”
In preseason polls, the Bears were expected to finish sixth in the regular season. They exceeded all expectations this year under their new head coach, Tony Economopoulos.