MACON, Ga. – Mercer Men's Soccer will take on 2017 Sun Belt Champion, Coastal Carolina, on Thursday, Nov. 16, at CCU Soccer Stadium in Conway, S.C. The match will be played at 7 p.m.
Mercer (7-8-6) claimed the Southern Conference Championship for the second consecutive season, earning the league's automatic bid after besting UNCG in penalty kicks, 3-2. The contest was played on Sunday in Greenville, S.C. at Stone Soccer Stadium. Senior keeper Jeremy Booth was named the 2017 SoCon Tournament Most Outstanding Player for the second consecutive year after notching six saves in 11 penalty kicks over the course of the tournament. The Bears are the only SoCon squad in the field of 48.
This will be Mercer's fourth trip to the NCAA Tournament and second in a row. The Bears reached the tournament twice in three years, 1999 and 2001, under former head coach Tom Melville and went 0-2 in both appearances. The Bears then went to the Big Dance in 2016, falling to South Carolina by the final score of 1-0.
Coastal Carolina earned the Sun Belt's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament after defeating Georgia State in the Sun Belt Championship, 2-0. The Chanticleers (12-6-1) are led in scoring by Frantzdy Pierrot with eight goals and a team-high 19 points. Braulio Linares-Ortiz anchors the team in goal, holding an 11-5-1 overall record with four shutouts and a goal-against-average of 1.09.
HEAD COACH BRAD RUZZO'S COMMENTS
On facing Coastal Carolina in the NCAA Tournament:
"Obviously we are excited to be in the tournament, this is our second year in a row and we have a feeling of that loss last year at South Carolina. I had a good feeling it could have been Coastal Carolina. We have done some scouting on them already and we have an idea about the team. We are looking forward to going up there, finding out a bit more about them and looking to advance."
On the senior class and what they mean to the program:
"We have an unbelievable senior class and I can't say enough about them. They have been so battle-tested over the last four years. This group has won one regular season title, two [SoCon] tournament titles and have received two NCAA berths, while also averaging 10-plus wins a year. When they were pressured, they came through and I was really happy to get that result."
On hitting the stride coming into the NCAA Tournament:
"I'll be honest, in the last three weeks we have played really well. There were three results late in the season that didn't go our way and we were able to use that for the SoCon Tournament. We were able to use the drive to prove we were the best team in the conference, because we thought we were. I do believe we are playing really well right now and I am looking forward to us continuing that."
Booth named to College Soccer News National Team of the Week
MACON, Ga. – After slamming the door shut on six of 11 penalty kicks in the Southern Conference Tournament en route to being named the SoCon Most Outstanding Player, Mercer goalkeeper Jeremy Booth was named to College Soccer News' National Team of the Week.
Booth had a standout performance in the SoCon Tournament, guiding the Bears to their second consecutive SoCon Tournament title and NCAA berth. In the conference semifinals against ETSU, Booth earned his fourth clean sheet of the season, notching four saves. The Georgia native then stoned two of five penalty kicks, allowing the Bears to defeat ETSU 4-3 to advance to the conference title match.
The senior keeper was back in action on Sunday in the conference championship against UNCG, registering two saves through 110 minutes of play. Booth then solidified his name for the SoCon Most Outstanding Player after turning away four of six penalty kicks from the Spartans. Booth's efforts lifted Mercer to claiming the 2017 SoCon Championship as Will Bagrou buried the game-winning penalty kick to down the Spartans.