MACON, Ga. (School Release) - The Mercer men's soccer team fought until the very end, but came out on the wrong side of a 1-0 decision against Florida Gulf Coast on Saturday evening at Bear Field.
With the win, FGCU (9-5-2, 6-1-1 A-Sun) captured the 2012 Atlantic Sun Conference regular season crown for the third year in a row. Mercer (11-6-1, 6-2-0 A-Sun) had a shot to win its first A-Sun Conference regular season title with a win or tie, but will now have to travel to FGCU as the No. 2 seed in next week's A-Sun Championship in Fort Myers, Florida.
On senior night and in front of a sold out crowd of over 600 fans, senior Richie Edmondson nearly gave the home team the lead late in the first half. The Montego Bay, Jamaica native collected a long ball and fired a shot on net that caromed off the far post to keep the game scoreless.
Coming out of halftime, the Bears nearly scored again when freshman David Murtaugh settled a cross and ripped a low shot that dribbled just outside the far post.
FGCU went on the offensive minutes later and took full advantage of its first real scoring chance of the game. Sophomore Santiago Echeverri collected a loose ball at the top of the box and hit a one-time volley past Mercer goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead in the 52nd minute of play.
The Bears had one more quality chance to tie the game up in the 78th minute, but senior Josh Shutter's free kick attempt from about 25 yards away was blocked by an Eagles defender to seal the win for FGCU.
Both Ranjitsingh and FGCU's Nathan Ingham made four saves apiece in the contest.
Mercer now turns its attention to next week's A-Sun Championship where it will be the No. 2 seed. The Bears have a first round bye and will face either No. 3 seed East Tennessee State or No. 6 seed Jacksonville in the semifinals on November 9.