SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The Southern Conference Men’s Soccer Championship moves to Summers-Taylor Stadium on the campus of East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tennessee, this weekend for the semifinal and final matches, beginning Friday at 3 p.m. Eastern. The No. 1, 2, 3 and 5 seeds advanced to the championship weekend, with Mercer, ETSU, Furman and UNCG vying for the tournament title and the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship.
Both of Friday’s semifinal matches will air live on the SoCon Digital Network, while Sunday’s championship match, slated for 1 p.m., will be broadcast live on ESPN+.
Tickets for this weekend’s games are $5 for adults and youth ages seven and older. The group rate is $25 for 10 tickets. Youth ages six and younger, as well as students with a valid SoCon ID, receive free admission to the game.
The defending SoCon champion, Mercer, went 12-3-2 overall this season and 5-1-0 in conference play. The Bears won the regular-season title for the first time since 2014 and are searching for their third consecutive Southern Conference Championship title. Mercer boasts player of the year and freshman of the year Trevor Martineau, as well as coach of the year Brad Ruzzo.
Ten total Bears earned postseason honors, with five being named All-SoCon first-team and four being named All-SoCon second-team. Mercer has won eight of its last nine games to help secure the No. 1 seed.
With a record of 4-1-1 in conference and 9-6-1 overall, the ETSU Bucs claimed the No. 2 seed in the Southern Conference Championship after beating Mercer 2-1 in their regular-season finale. ETSU features seven players who earned postseason honors, including Bruno Andrade and Cameron Woodfin, who were selected All-SoCon first team and Danny Barlow, Serge Gomis, Merevil Bilomba and Josh Perryman, who were named All-SoCon second team.
Furman enters the weekend as the No. 3 seed. The Paladins went 11-6-1 overall (4-2 SoCon), beating Belmont in the quarterfinals on Saturday to punch their ticket to Johnson City. Furman’s Ben Hale was named the 2018 SoCon Goalkeeper of the Year and selected to the All-SoCon first team. Hale currently leads the conference in shutouts (6) and shutouts per game (0.33). Six other Paladins earned postseason honors, with midfielder Laurence Wyke being named to the All-SoCon first team, forward Emery May, midfielder Danny Kierath and defender Dalton Souders were named to the All-SoCon second team and Jacob Garzon and Miles Fenton named to the all-freshman team.
UNCG, the No. 5 seed, found its way to Johnson City by way of beating No. 4 seed Wofford on Saturday night in a quarterfinal matchup, by a score of 1-0. Two Spartans earned spots on the post-season team including senior midfielder Leeroy Maguraushe and freshman Jacob Plannel, who were named to the All-SoCon first team and all-freshman team, respectively.
The winner of this year’s tournament will receive the SoCon’s automatic bid to the NCAA postseason. The NCAA Selection Show will air on NCAA.com on Monday, Nov. 12.
2018 SoCon Men’s Soccer Championship
First Round, Wednesday, Oct. 31 Campus sites (at higher seed)
Match 1: No. 6 Belmont 2, No. 7 VMI 1
Quarterfinals Saturday, Nov. 4 Campus sites (at higher seeds)
Match 2: No. 5 UNCG 1, No. 4 Wofford 0
Match 3: No. 6 Belmont 2, No. 3 Furman 4
Semifinals, Friday, Nov. 10 Johnson City, Tenn.
Match 3: No. 1 Mercer vs. No. 5 UNCG, 3:30 p.m. (SDN)
Match 4: No. 2 ETSU vs. No. 3 Furman, 6 p.m. (SDN)
Championship, Sunday, Nov. 12 Johnson City, Tenn.
Match 6: Match 5 winner vs. Match 6 winner, 1 p.m. (ESPN+)