JACKSONVILLE, Ala. - Junior forward Casey Barrett scored a goal with just under five minutes to play to break a 1-1 tie and give the Mercer women's soccer team a confidence-building 2-1 victory over Jacksonville State on Friday evening.
After jumping out to a 1-0 lead midway through the second half, Mercer (5-3-1) allowed Jacksonville State (6-2-1) to score a game-tying goal in the 82nd minute. With the game knotted at 1-1, Barrett scored her first of the season off a nice individual effort and at an opportune time for the Bears.
The junior finished a run through the Jacksonville State defense and unloaded a shot just outside the JSU box for the game-winner in the 86th minute.
"Tonight we were able to find a way to win," head coach Tony Economopoulos said. "All year we have had numerous opportunities and we have been harping on finishing one and today we finally connected and it was nice to see."
Coming into Friday's game, Mercer had outshot their opponents 134-74 and had nearly four times the amount of corner kicks. On Friday, the Bears were able to capitalize on their chances at the right time to pull off the win. MU outshot the Gamecocks 21-13 in the match and nearly half of those shots were on goal.
The two teams played a competitive first half and walked into the locker room tied at 0-0. It was not until the 67th minute that senior midfielder Danielle Hesse scored her second of the season off a Mercer corner kick. Hesse guided a shot off a Lauren Gassie feed to give the Bears the 1-0 lead.
The goal broke the tie, but perhaps gave the Bears a little too much cushion as the Gamecocks stormed back to tie it up again late in the game.
"We had a mental lapse in the defensive end and didn't clear it," Economopoulos said. "It kind of forced to foul in our end and they served it in and we were to tie it up."
Economopoulos settled his players down after the goal and felt comfortable that his team would at least get a chance late in the game. That chance came in the form of Barrett stepping up at the right time.
"It's been up and down and tonight we were able to play a good quality opponent and get the result," Economopoulos said. "We played very hard, scrapped and just kept pushing to get the win. This was a good win for us."
Freshman goalkeeper Maggie Cropp received the start in goal for the Bears and ended up playing the entire match. Cropp gave up the one goal but had an impressive outing making a career-high seven saves en route to her third win of the season.
The Bears look to parlay Friday night's effort into their final non-conference match against Troy on Sunday afternoon. Troy had the evening off and will have over a week's rest before hosting the Bears on Sunday at 2 p.m. eastern.