ETSU’s historic season ends on Ali Meek’s OT goal
FT, MYERS, Fla. (Nov. 4, 2011) – Ali Meek struck for her first goal of the season as the Mercer Bears used an overtime goal to defeat the ETSU women’s soccer team 1-0 on Friday afternoon at the FGCU Soccer Complex in the Atlantic Sun semifinals.
Meek gained possession off a turnover on the Lady Bucs’ side of the field and fired a shot from outside the top left corner of the box which struck the right post and ricocheted back into the goal. The goal gave the Bears their first overtime win of the year, as they now advance to their second-consecutive A-Sun final for the right to defend their A-Sun title.
"It was a tough way to lose,” said ETSU head coach Adam Sayers, this year’s A-Sun Coach of the Year. “It was a very good goal that [Meek] scored and give full credit to Mercer. They played very well all day and we wish them all the best through the rest of the conference tournament.”
Mercer (10-7-2, 3-5-1 A-Sun) came into the conference tournament as the No. 6 seed, defeating Jacksonville in penalty kicks in the quarterfinals to earn its way to the semis. Last year, the Bears defeated JU 1-0 on the Dolphin’s home field to capture their first A-Sun Tournament title, going on to play Florida in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
ETSU (12-5-1, 7-1-1 A-Sun) will head back to Johnson City with plenty to be proud of from its historic season. The Lady Bucs tied the program record for wins (12) and conference wins (7), set the program record for goals (43) and points (118), and earned a share of its first A-Sun conference title.
The match got off to a blistering start, as both Mercer and ETSU nearly scored on separate chances.
Five minutes in, Kate Alderman gained possession for the Bears on the left side of the field and sent a chance through from well outside the box. With the help of strong winds blowing towards goal, Alderman’s ball sailed through the box and struck the crossbar above a leaping Caitlin Gaughan (Indianapolis, Ind.) in goal.
On ETSU's next possession, sophomore Ramey Kerns (Kings Mountain, N.C.) played a ball that sprung the Atlantic Sun Freshman of the Year, Jenna Caudle (Middletown, Md.), free for a one-on-one opportunity with Nikki Atkinson in goal. Caudle beat Atkinson with a shot to her right side, but the chance banged off the post and the game remained scoreless.
Much of the remainder of the half went the way of Mercer, as the Bears held an 8-2 shot advantage, taking six corners while surrendering none to ETSU. Gaughan saved all four shots Mercer put on frame, including back-to-back corner attempts midway through the period and an Alderman free kick near the end of the half. The senior keeper ended the game with seven saves.
“I thought Gaughan played brilliantly today,” commented Sayers. “She had one of her best performances of the season. She was composed, organized well and directed the other players very well. The shot that beat her was a fantastic shot off the post.”
The Lady Bucs earned their first corner of the game at the beginning stages of the second half, as sophomore Samantha Kron (Paradise Valley, Ariz.) lined up for the set piece. Kron’s corner came down towards the near post and off a Mercer defender. The deflected ball hit in front of Atkinson as she dove for it and nearly spun over her hands, but the Bears keeper was able to hold on.
The corner was ETSU’s best chance of the half, as Mercer threatened to take the lead on multiple occasions.
With five minutes remaining, Nadja Kolliesuah ran toward a loose ball in the box and put on a sliding shot which dribbled at the left post but rolled just wide. A final attempt to end the game in regulation came when the Bears’ leading goal scorer, Olivia Tucker, put a hard shot at the net, but Gaughan met the challenge once again as the two sides headed for overtime.
Kolliesuah took another chance 1:22 into the extra session, but Gaughan was there for her seventh and final save.
The game’s next shot was Meek’s game-winner as the Bears celebrated another trip to the conference finals.
“We’ve made huge amounts of progress this year and have had a lot of players perform very well. This entire year was a complete team effort as we were regular season champions, and this game will not cloud what has been a fantastic season for us. I’m so proud of this team and the effort they gave throughout the year.”
For more information on ETSU women’s soccer please visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the women’s soccer links.