BOCA RATON, Fla. – The Mercer women’s soccer team put its undefeated record on the line Friday night against another undefeated team in Florida Atlantic. The Bears again kept a fourth-straight clean slate to start the season as the team took a 3-0 win to remain undefeated.
The Bears have yet to give up a goal this season – a stretch of 360 minutes and is now the longest stretch holding opponents scoreless since the 2008 season when the Bears rattled off five wins in row without giving up a goal.
“I am kind of pleased at where we are at, there are still some things that I think we can improve on,” head coach Grant Serafy said. “When you go on a long trip and you have a few complications like we had, you have to give the players credit.”
The two teams are old Atlantic Sun rivals and have not met since 2005, when the Bears dropped a 2-0 decision in Boca Raton, Fla.
On Friday, Mercer put the early pressure on FAU unloading five shots and one on goal in the first 15 minutes of the match. Senior forward Olivia Tucker continued the Bears’ momentum, scoring the first goal of the game as she buried a shot from six yards out off a junior P.A. Upson cross from the right side. The goal is Tucker’s second on year.
By the end of the first half the Bears held a decisive advantage on the offensive side, outshooting FAU 9-4, including 4-1 lead in shots on goal. It was also the seventh-straight half that the Bears have held their opponents scoreless – a span of 315 minutes.
Upson continued her strong performance in the match as well when she took a try in the 54th minute that careened off the cross bar. Less than ten minutes later, Tucker added her second goal of the night as she deflected a ball off the left post to give the Bears the 2-0 lead. It is the first time since a 2009 match against Lipscomb that Tucker has had a multi-goal game, when she had a hat-trick. On Friday, she finished the night with all four of her shots on goal.
“Olivia is very scrappy, feisty player who always gets the job done.” Serafy said. “She is also very opportunistic and really reads the game well and knows when to slip in when the time is right. She has had a great season so far.”
Mercer put a capstone on the match when freshman forward Washida Blackman scored the first goal of her career in the 83rd minute. Sophomore Casey Barrett assisted on Blackman’s shot that went over the head of the Owls keeper.
Senior Cagney Valloch received her second-straight start in goal for the Bears, but fellow senior Cristina Guilarte shared time and took over to start the second. The Bears’ third keeper, sophomore Nikki Atkinson, also saw action in the remaining minutes of the game. Guilarte led the keepers with three saves on the night.
The Bears now have a week to prepare for in-state rival Georgia next Friday, Sept. 9 in Athens.