Bears Clinch Spot In Tourney, Lose to ETSU 2-1
JOHNSON CITY, TENN. – The Mercer women's soccer captured a spot in its sixth-straight Atlantic Sun Tournament on Sunday in an unconventional way – losing its final game of the regular season at East Tennessee St., 2-1.
With a little help from the other teams in action on Sunday, the Bears (9-7-1, 3-5-1 A-Sun) did just enough to ensure the sixth overall seed in the tournament, which begins next weekend. The Bears could have made their path to the postseason a much easier ride had they won on Sunday.
However, Mercer failed to maintain an early 1-0 lead and dropped match after a go-ahead goal by the Lady Bucs (12-4-1, 7-1-1 A-Sun) in the 81st minute of the match. With the loss and the way the rest of the matches shook out around the league, the Bears now have to head Jacksonville and face the Dolphins next Saturday in the first round of the A-Sun Tournament.
"We had another disappointing result for us," head coach Grant Serafy said. "I felt like we played really well actually. I thought we possessed the ball really well, but we are just not making plays when it's time to make plays."
The Bears did make a statement play early on as junior defender Patricia-Anna Upson curved a free kick from outside the top corner of the box that senior Olivia Tucker was able to get a head on to find the back of the net. Tucker's ninth of the year put the Bears up 1-0, just eight minutes into the game.
Before the half could end however, ETSU clawed its way back into the match as Kim Elmore looped a long 25-yard shot over the head of sophomore goalkeeper Nikki Atkinson's head, to tie the game at one. The score fairly represented the tight match played in the first half as both teams had eight shots in the period.
In the second, the Bears continued to pressure the Lady Bucs with eight more shots. ETSU keeper Caitlin Gaughan responded well and kept the Bears at bay, making six saves on the day.
With the Bears struggling to find an answer on the offensive side of the ball, it left the door open for the Lady Bucs. Then in the 81st minute ETSU's Ramey Kerns made an opportunistic play in front of the net by picking up a rebound and tallied the game-winner.
"You have to give ETSU credit," Serafy said. "They made a play when they needed it."
"We are doing the right thing but when the game is on the line and its time to make a play we have to have someone step up and make a play and we have to have that by Saturday," Serafy said.
The Bears play next Saturday at the site where they won the 2010 A-Sun Tournament Championship last season. Mercer faces the No. 3 seed Jacksonville Dolphins at a time yet to be determined. Earlier this season the Bears lost a 1-0 decision at JU in double-overtime.