The Southern Conference soccer schedule began this week for both Mercer teams.
The women’s team won its conference opener 3-0 over The Citadel on Saturday, while the men’s team lost 2-1 to UNC Greensboro in overtime Tuesday.
But the men’s team already has made program history, ranking 38th in the NCAA RPI, the highest RPI ranking at any given time during the season for the Mercer men’s soccer program.
Head coach Brad Ruzzo said that the ranking was “just a starting point” for the team, adding the team still has a lot of work to do.
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The men’s team (5-4 overall) has had a tough schedule so far, playing four top-30 RPI programs early on. The Bears’ first six games were on the road, preparing them for their conference opener at UNC Greensboro. They won five of their eight non-conference games, and they will play their second conference game Saturday against Wofford.
Conner Antley leads the Bears with three goals, while Jourdan Gooden has two and seven other players have one goal, and goalkeeper Jeremy Booth has recorded four shutouts.
The women’s team, which won the conference tournament title last year, is 4-4-2.
“I’m ecstatic about that,” head coach Tony Economopoulos said.
On Friday, the Bears face Chattanooga, followed by a showdown with Samford on Sunday.
Economopoulos said he expects it to be a “tough contest” for the team, as Chattanooga has a new coaching staff this season.
But Mercer has had a facelift, as well. Last year’s team, which finished 14-6-2, had 10 seniors, including six who were starters.
Maddie Clark and Jamilah Tejan lead the Bears with three goals each, while Katelyn Dimopoulos has two.
“We’re younger this year,” Economopoulos said. “We look different.”