MACON, Ga. – The Mercer men’s soccer team opened the 2016 season with a clinical 1-0 win over intrastate foe Georgia State on Friday evening in front of a great crowd.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Both teams had to settle in and find their rhythm in the match, as neither team controlled the opening 25 minutes of play. The Bears got the breakthrough they were looking for in the 32nd minute, as a Georgia State Player was whistled for a handball in the box, giving Mercer a huge opportunity with a penalty kick. Senior Conner Antley demanded the opportunity and converted from the spot, slotting his effort into the right side of the net to give Mercer a 1-0 lead.
After grabbing the lead with the first goal, the Bears dominated for much of the remainder of the match. Mercer came close to doubling its lead in the second half on numerous occasions and looked threatening moving forward. Sophomore Jake Mezei had two well-struck curling effort just miss wide of the frame before junior Will Bagrou broke into the box and fired a shot off the post. The missed opportunities did not matter in the end as the Mercer backline put the clamps down on the Panther attack to see out the 1-0 victory.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Conner Antley did not waste any time to open his scoring account on the season, scoring from a penalty kick. The senior defensive midfielder also played a major role on the defensive end, putting in a tireless shift all over the field to breakup any Panther attack.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
The Bears’ defense was in top form in the opener, posting a clean sheet. Not only did the Orange and Black defensive unit not allow a goal but it also did not concede a single corner kick over the 90 minutes of play. Mercer also held the Panthers to just five shots on the evening, two on target.
COACH RUZZO’S TAKE
On the crowd and atmosphere:
“We want to thank the crowd for coming out. It was a big push and a big thing for our team. To have this many people here for our season opener was awesome. I wish we could have given them the second goal but we were really happy with the crowd.”
On the defensive effort:
“We had to start a freshman goalkeeper and JR [DeRose] stepped up to the challenge and was fantastic in goal. I think the guys in front of him, especially the back four, were exceptional tonight. I don’t think our goalkeeper had to make any tough saves tonight.”
· With the win, Mercer improves to 18-33-3 against Georgia State in the all-time series and have now won three straight and four of the last five matches with the Panthers.
· Freshman goalkeeper JR DeRose recorded a shutout in his Mercer debut.
· The Bears are now 5-2 in home openers since the 2010 season, outscoring its opponents by a combined score of 12-5.
· The Orange and Black has now won each of its last three home openers via shutout.
· The Bears outshot the Panthers 17-5 and took nine corners while not allowing Georgia State any corner opportunities.
Mercer starts the season with a record of 1-0-0, while Georgia State begins 0-1-0.
The Bears hit the road for the first time this season on Tuesday, August 30, as Mercer faces South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina. The match is slated to start at 7 p.m.
HOW TO FOLLOW THE BEARS
For complete coverage of Mercer Men’s Soccer, please follow the Bears on social media at @Mercer_MSoccer (Twitter) and /MercerMSoccer (Facebook) or visit the official home of Mercer Athletics at MercerBears.com.