PEORIA, Ill. - The Mercer men's soccer team battled for 110 minutes to earn a 2-2 tie against Hartwick and eventually the Hotels at Grand Prairie Classic Tournament title on Sunday afternoon at Shea Stadium.
Mercer (1-2-1) concluded its nine-day four-game road trip by racking up a season-high 17 shots and 11 corner kicks against Hartwick (0-1-2).
Mercer and tournament host Bradley each finished with identical 1-0-1 records for the event, but Mercer's plus-two goal differential trumped Bradley's plus-one advantage to give the Bears the title. Junior Ryan King was named Tournament MVP, while seniors Joey Heavner and Will Betts and sophomore Ashani Samuels were also voted onto the All-Tournament team.
Just over a minute into the match, Mercer struck first thanks to yet another well executed set piece. Off a corner kick deflection, freshman Juan Jose Morales fired a ball into the mixer that Betts redirected past Hartwick goalkeeper Tom Buckner and into the back of the net to give the Bears a 1-0 lead.
The Bears had another quality chance in the 42nd minute when senior Richie Edmondson sent in a cross that freshman David Murtaugh headed just over the bar to keep the score 1-0 in favor of Mercer.
Hartwick bounced back to start the second half, however, using a counter attack goal in the 56th minute by sophomore Rio Dhat to tie the game at 1-1.
The Hawks took advantage of the momentum swing just minutes later when sophomore Chris Walter headed home another goal in the 65th minute to give Hartwick a 2-1 lead.
The Bears didn't stay down for long, using a shot from Heavner that deflected off a Hartwick defender and into the back of the net in the 71st minute to tie the game back up at 2-2.
The game would eventually go into overtime and Mercer had the best chance in both sessions when Heavner crushed a shot in the 93rd minute that Buckner dived for and tipped just wide of the net.
Bears goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh made one save while Buckner made six saves in the contest for Hartwick.
Mercer returns to Macon for its 2012 season home opener against Presbyterian on September 8. Game time is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Bear Field.