Despite their first place finish in the regular season conference, the men’s soccer team’s season ended on Friday night in their semifinal match against Mercer University.
All season long, the Bucs had gone head-to-head with Mercer. Their first matchup ended in double overtime and a tied score of 0-0. In their second matchup, the Bucs barely came out on top in a 1-0 overtime victory. Their third matchup with Mercer was close, but the Bucs took a loss this time.
Overtime this season was not unknown to the Bucs. With 10 of their 18 regular season matches going in overtime or double overtime, the semifinal game was no different.
This one couldn’t end in a tie though, and the Bears and the Bucs went to penalty kicks in the end. The Bucs came up one short and fell 4-3 as Mercer heads to the championship match.
Prior to that, with two minutes left in regulation, Mercer had a penalty kick due to a foul in the box. Goalkeeper Jonny Sutherland (Chester, U.K.), with one of his most outstanding saves that game, kept the Bucs alive until the penalty shootout after double-overtime.
The Bucs were slow to start in the first half, only taking two shots. In the second half, they started to send in more shots but nothing was falling their way.
Sutherland, along with teammates Chase Clack (Memphis, Tennessee) and Danny Barlow (Newcastle, England) made their shots in their shots in the shootout, but Mercer’s final kick is what made the difference.
Sutherland dove the right way, but not quick enough and the Bears finished the game.
It’s a devastating loss for the seniors, unable to get back to the championship where Mercer defeated the Bucs in a penalty shootout last year as well.
This loss means the end of the men’s soccer season, but they have time now to prepare for scrimmages in the spring and looking toward another season in the fall.