STATESBORO, Ga. – The Mercer women's soccer team extended their winning streak to three games over in-state rival Georgia Southern, taking the 2-0 shutout on Thursday.
The win improves the Bears to 2-0 on the season, which is the first time in head coach Grant Serafy's tenure that the Bears have accomplished that feat.
The Bears have now kept the Eagles scoreless in each of past three years, a stretch of 270 minutes. With the two goals on Thursday, the Bears have also outscored the Eagles 8-0 over that time.
"It was a much improved Georgia Southern team and we have to give them credit, they fought very hard," Serafy said. "It's always hard to play on the same day as you travel, so from that standpoint I am pleased and it's good to get another shutout."
Mercer set the pace of play early on as freshman forward Washida Blackman drove a shot high of goal in just the seventh minute that was promptly followed up by the Bears first scoring chance. The Bears took the lead for good after drawing a corner kick in the ninth minute of the game.
Senior Emerald Phillips added her first assist of the season as she put a well-placed ball at the feet of junior P.A. Upson, who buried the shot from three yards out to give MU the 1-0 lead.
From there, the Bears battled both the heat and a pesky Southern defense that kept the game close throughout the match. Serafy played 18 players on Thursday with all of them playing at least 20 minutes.
"It was the heat and our depth," Serafy said. "There are just a lot of battles for most positions on our team and that is a nice luxury to have, so we did sub a little more liberally today."
It wasn't until the 86th minute that the Bears put the game out of reach, as senior midfielder Olivia Tucker scored her first goal of the campaign off a nice cross from freshman Nadja Kolliesuah. Tucker laced a shot from 12 yards out and led the team with five shots on the day.
Another veteran, junior P.A. Upson, wasn't far behind as she uncorked four shots, two on goal to go along with her first goal of the season.
Defensively, the Bears have seemingly figured out a rotation in their back line with Upson, sophomores Jordan Sink, and Nicole Young, and freshmen Rachel Buffalo, Stephanie Giangiuli and Taylor Dias all moving fluidly in the lineup.
Following a similar formula to last year, the Bears have split time at the goalkeeper position in the first two games. Seniors Cristina Guilarte and Cagney Valloch again played the first and second halves respectively, with Guilarte picking up her second win on the year.