Women’s soccer qualified for the SoCon tournament semifinals after a 1-0 win over the Mercer University Bears this past Sunday.
Earlier in the season the Bucs lost 2-1 in over-time against Mercer.
“Massive win, it’s always a battle against Mercer,” said head coach Adam Sayers. “We knew we had to keep it tight so we could nick one on a set piece, and they were brilliant, the girls were fantastic.”
The first half showed an intense battle between the two teams for possession. The Bears led the first half with six shots, but the Bucs goalkeeper, senior Lea Ann Cutshall (Johnson City, Tennessee), kept the Bears from advancing onto the scoreboard.
The Bucs did well when facing pressure from the Bears. Players like senior Fiona Dodge (Pontypool, Wales) and sophomore Beatrice Abati (Milan, Italy) did well to regain possession for the Bucs and redirect the play of the game into the Bears territory.
The Bucs made many attempts to make plays inside the 18, but the Mercer defense denied their efforts. Players Eleonora Goldoni (Ferrara, Italy) and Sarah Connolly (Ballygowan, Northern Ireland) made great attempts to be on the end of incoming balls from the Bucs’ midfield and defense, but couldn’t manage to get on the end of them due to the Bears’ overwhelming coverage.
By the end of the second half, the scoreboard was tied with 0.
It wasn’t until the 80th minute of the second half that the first and only goal of the evening would be scored. A corner by red-shirt freshman Kendall King (Charlotte, North Carolina) floated right into traffic within the box, with Goldoni redirecting the ball on a header and Connelly making the final touch, putting the ball in the back of the net.
The Bears fought to tie the score with 10 minutes left on the clock, but the Bucs were determined and kept the Bears scoreless.
“We’ve been dangerous in set pieces all season, especially in the conference portion,” said Connolly. “So every time we get a corner or a set play around the ball, we always feel like we have a really good chance of scoring.”
Cutshall broke the all-time record of career saves with 222, and senior Isabel Hodgson (Adelaide, Australia) made her 77th appearance in Sunday’s game, and has now played in more games than any other players for the Bucs.
Women’s soccer will continue in the SoCon tournament in the semi-finals against UNCG on Friday.