ATHENS, Ga. – For a second year in a row the Mercer women’s soccer team played to a dramatic overtime finish against the University of Georgia, unfortunately again the team found itself on the losing end, falling 2-1 on Friday night.
Last year in Macon the Bears (4-1-0, 0-0-0 A-Sun) lost a heart-wrenching 3-2 decision in the second overtime. This year the Bears battled through another 90 minutes only to have their hopes dashed five minutes into the first overtime as the Bulldogs(4-2-0, 0-0-0 SEC) buried a long rebound off a save from senior goalkeeper Cagney Valloch.
UGA forward Alexa Newfield, who scored the game-tying goal in last year’s game, found herself a fortunate break as Valloch’s diving save pushed a ball to the near post where Newfield was able to track it down for the game-winner.
“It was a disappointing result for us,” head coach Grant Serafy said. “For the second year in a row we were outplayed and outcoached in the second half. I have to give UGA credit for how they came out in the second and half and in the overtime as well.”
The Bears, who had yet to let up a goal on the year, gave up their first of the season just 14 minutes into the match. The goal, an Alexa Newfield penalty kick, snapped a 373 minute streak holding opponents scoreless to start the season.
Just three minutes later, Bears’ senior forward Emerald Phillips secured the equalizer when she headed a shot off the cross bar and was then able to locate it behind Georgia keeper Ashley Baker to tap home her second goal of the season and tie the game at one. Phillps led the Bears with five shots and two on goal on the night.
Throughout the first half the Bears looked confident dictating possession and went into halftime leading 10-6 in shots and had an impressive 5-1 advantage in corner kicks.
The momentum seemed to flip in the second half as UGA pelted the Bears with several early scoring chances. Thanks to the superb play in goal by Valloch, the Bears were able to keep the game knotted at one at the end of regulation. Valloch made nine saves, which matchs a career-high for the senior out of Florida.
“Cagney had a great game and made some very good saves tonight,” Serafy said. “On the last play, she made a good save and it was just an unfortunate break. I thought she had good shot stopping and controlled the box well.”
Serafy’s defense also looked the part on Friday, as junior P.A. Upson led an impressive defensive stand to keep Georgia scoreless in the second half after the Bulldogs unloaded 15 shots in the half.
The road does not get any easier for the Bears as the team heads to Tallahassee, Fla. to face off against the No. 5 Florida St. Seminoles on Sunday afternoon. Game time is set for 1 p.m.