MACON, Ga. – The Mercer women’s soccer team had its final tune-up for Atlantic Sun Conference play on Sunday and finished well; shutting out Alabama St. 4-0 at Bear Field.
The win is the second-straight shutout of the weekend for the Bears (6-2-0, 0-0-0 A-Sun) and sixth overall this season. Prior to posting the last two shutouts the Bears were No. 20 in the country in shutout percentage at 0.667. Mercer can expect to be in the top 15 this week.
“In some respects it was a lackluster performance,” head coach Grant Serafy said. “The second half was a little lackluster, but we will take it and get ready for conference.”
Two days after senior Olivia Tucker had a two-goal performance at Presbyterian, her fellow teammate and midfielder Danielle Hesse put two goals on the board against the Hornets (1-8-0, 0-0-0 SWAC) to lead the Bears attack. It was the first time in Hesse’s three-year career that she has recorded a multi-goal game. Hesse’s two goals on Sunday give her three on the week as she led all Mercer players with six points in two games.
“Hesse does a great job of being a ball-winner and doing the dirty work,” Serafy said. “She has worked hard on her long range shots and being opportunistic and she has done well the last two games.”
Offensively, the Bears dominated the game from start to finish on Sunday unleashing a season-high 34 shots, including a staggering 21 in the first half. All four of the Bears’ goals also came in the first stanza, with the scoring starting in just the third minute of the match.
Hesse buried her first goal when she made a run to the near post and tapped in a shot off passes from freshman Lauren Gassie and sophomore Casey Barrett.
Senior Emerald Phillips added her third of the season finishing a long cross from sophomore Jordan Sink with a nice shot from the top of the box to make the score. 2-0. Phillips now has a point in six of the Bears eight matches and is second on the team with 10 points this season.
Mercer’s third goal was a beauty, as Hesse corralled a loose ball just outside the box and fired a long arching ball from 22 yards out that sailed just over the outstretched arms of Alabama St.’s keeper Kylee Hathaway.
With less than four minutes remaining in the half senior Kate Alderman scored the first goal of her career when she took a try off a Bears’ corner kick. Alderman struck a beautiful ball with her left foot that curled from the far side of the field through Hathaway’s hands for Mercer’s fourth and final goal of the game.
As electric as the offense was on Sunday, the Bears defense was equally impressive. Mercer allowed a season-low two shots and just one lone shot on goal in the game. Alabama St. was held at bay through the first half and didn’t get its first shot until the 60th minute. In fact, in the last two games the Bears outshot their opponents 58-9.
“Once we get to conference, it’s a whole other level of intensity and we got to raise our level intensity,” Serafy said. “In our conference anyone can beat anyone on any given day and we are fortunate to be at home at first, but we have to be more intense and be ready for next weekend.”
The Bears open up A-Sun play next week welcoming in the two A-Sun teams from Nashville. Up first, Lipscomb comes to Bear Field on Friday, Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. Then on Sunday at 2 p.m., the Bears welcome in Belmont for what will be the final regular season match as the Bruins leave the A-Sun after this season.