TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Mercer women's soccer team made a national statement to the rest of the college soccer world on Sunday evening when it went on the road and downed Southeastern Conference member Alabama 2-1.
The win for Mercer (2-1-1) was its fifth over an SEC opponent in program history and first since defeating Mississippi State, 2-0, in August of 1999.
For Alabama (1-2), the loss was its first setback of all-time to the Bears and just its second defeat against an Atlantic Sun Conference foe in program history.
"Coming off a tough game against Georgia on Friday we wanted to make sure we executed our game plan better tonight and I believe our players did just that," head coach Tony Economopoulos said. "We wanted to play solid defense and try to push the pace offensively using counter attacks and it worked out. I am just thrilled for our team and this is a great win for our program to go on the road and beat an SEC opponent."
Junior Lauren Gassie got the scoring started very early on for Mercer in just the fifth minute of play. Junior Washida Blackman sent Gassie in with a through ball and the Winter Park, Fla. native buried her shot past the Alabama goalkeeper to give the Bears a 1-0 lead.
Mercer expanded its lead later on in the first half when the combination of Gassie and Balckman struck again. Gassie fired another shot on goal that was turned aside by Alabama goalkeeper Shelby Church, but Blackman picked up the rebound attempt and slipped in a shot to give the Bears a 2-0 advantage in the 27th minute of the contest.
The Crimson Tide tried to make a game of it in the second half after cutting Mercer's lead to 2-1 in the 57th minute of play, but the Bears defense held strong to secure the historic road win.
"When we put together the schedule for this season we knew it was going to be tough playing four SEC opponents in a row," Economopoulos said. "However, we felt like as a team we were ready for that type of jump and our players proved that here tonight. Hopefully this win will help build and develop our program even further looking towards the future."
Sophomore Maggie Cropp made five saves for Mercer in the contest while Church stopped three shots for Alabama in a losing effort.
Mercer plays its third-straight match against an SEC foe next time out when it returns to the state of Alabama to take on Auburn on Sept. 6. Game time is scheduled for 8 p.m. at the Auburn University Soccer Complex.