ETSU wins 12th game of season to tie program record and earn first A-Sun title
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (October 23, 2011) – There was plenty to celebrate on Senior Day at Summers-Taylor Stadium, as sophomore Ramey Kerns (Kings Mountain, N.C.) fired home the game-winning goal in the 81st minute to help the ETSU women’s soccer team to a, 2-1, victory over Mercer and a share of the Atlantic Sun regular season title.
“We’re absolutely thrilled to be co-champions,” said ETSU head coach Adam Sayers. “We knew it would be a very tough game. When we went 1-0 down early, it certainly made the slope steeper to climb. The team never gave up, as they have never done all season, got the equalizer and then got the winner towards the end.”
Minutes after the Lady Bucs’ victory, Belmont completed a, 1-0, victory over Florida Gulf Coast to jump ETSU (12-4-1, 7-1-1 A-Sun) into a tie for first in the A-Sun standings. The title is ETSU’s first in program history, as the Lady Bucs’ will enter the A-Sun Tournament as the No. 2 seed and receive a first round bye into the semifinals.
Mercer (9-7-1, 3-5-1 A-Sun) will still be in the A-Sun Tournament as the No. 6 seed, playing a first round match at No. 3 Jacksonville on Saturday, October 29. The Bears finished in a three way tie for sixth with Stetson and Kennesaw State, but won the tiebreaker to earn a spot in the tournament.
Jacksonville also earned a share of the A-Sun title, finishing 7-1-1 along with FGCU and ETSU. FGCU earned the No. 1 seed via the head-to-head tiebreak between the three squads. The Eagles held a 1-0-1 record to earn the top seed, while ETSU’s 1-1-0 record received the No. 2 seed and JU’s 0-1-1 record placed third.
Senior goalkeeper Caitlin Gaughan (Indianapolis, Ind.) got on the stat sheet early, saving the Bears’ first shot in the sixth minute. The save was one of six Gaughan made through the match.
The Bears lined up for a free kick after an ETSU foul in the eighth minute. Junior defender Patricia-Anne Upson stood back to take the kick, sending a ball through the air, over the hands of Gaughan and off the crossbar. Olivia Tucker collected the deflection and punched it in to give Mercer the early lead.
Down a goal, the Lady Bucs found themselves in a familiar situation. ETSU had come back three times this season from an early one-goal deficit, and needed to do the same if it wanted to secure a first round bye in the A-Sun Tournament.
With ETSU looking for a response, Sayers substituted freshman Kim Elmore (Salem, Va.) into the game midway through the first half. The freshman immediately made an impact, firing her first chance less than five minutes after entering the match, but Mercer’s Nikki Atkinson was there for one of her four saves.
Eight minutes later, Elmore got another chance and finished with her first goal of the season. Fellow classmate Emilee Engelhaupt (Charlotte, N.C.) received the ball near midfield and found Elmore with a pass up the near-right side. As Atkinson stepped away from the goal line towards Elmore, the freshman fired a hard shot over the head of Atkinson and into the left side of the net to equalize the match.
The score held into halftime, with Mercer and ETSU deadlocked at one goal and eight shots apiece.
The first portion of the second half played evenly, with both ETSU and Mercer getting chances from the corner and shots on target. With the game still even after 70 minutes, Sayers substituted Elmore back out of the game in place of a fresher Kerns.
The sophomore made a smart man of the first-year head coach, scoring the go-ahead goal just 10 minutes after reentering the match. With time winding down on ETSU to put in a game-winner in regulation, the Lady Bucs sent in a long shot which Atkinson dove for and saved, but lost on the ground. Kerns spotted the loose ball right in front of Atkinson and sent home the eventual game-winner.
The goal was Kerns’ third of the year, as the Lady Bucs hung on for the win and celebrated their first A-Sun championship after the FGCU score was announced.
Prior to the start of the game, the Lady Bucs honored seniors Gaughan, Genna Petersen (Loveland, Ohio) and Jessica Hiltenbrand (Bartlett, Tenn.) as part of the Senior Day festivities. The senior trio was escorted to midfield by their families with their respective accomplishments being acknowledged by the home crowd.
The ETSU women’s soccer team now heads for the semifinals of the A-Sun Tournament, awaiting the winner of No. 3 Jacksonville and No. 6 Mercer on Friday, November 4, in Ft. Myers, Fla. The scheduled time has yet to be determined.
For more information on ETSU women’s soccer please visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the women’s soccer links. Fans can also visit the Lady Bucs on Facebook at ETSU Buccaneer Women's Soccer.