Tuesday afternoon, the Mercer Bears took to the pitch one final time before starting the 2012 season.
Mercer finished the 2011 campaign with a record of 9-8-3 under now fifth-year head coach Brad Ruzzo. The orange and black were picked to finish fourth in the Atlantic Sun Conference Preseason Coaches Poll.
Senior defender Josh Shutter was named to the All-Conference first team. He started 18 games for Mercer last season and tallied 10 points on three goals and four assists.
ETSU was tabbed first in the 2012 preseason league poll, followed by FGCU and Stetson.
Ruzzo has assembled a touch schedule for the Bears, that includes four NCAA tournament teams and seven top 100 RPI teams.
Mercer has some extra depth this season to help them fight through that tough schedule. Eleven freshman will suit up for the Bears, combined with nine returning starters.
"I've been really happy with what's going on," said Ruzzo. "They really bought in to the summer program, fitness. We're extremely fit right now. We've got a couple guys out that won't play tonight, but it gives the younger guys a chance to step in and see what they can do against live competition. I've been happy so far."
Mercer will play exhibition games on August 14th and 17th against North Georgia and UCF. The season officially starts on August 24th against UAB.