Bears Break Through, Win First A-Sun Championship
Mercer's Olivia Tucker earned Tournament MVP honors. <br><i>Courtesy</i>
Mercer's Olivia Tucker earned Tournament MVP honors.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Mercer freshman Nadja Kolliesuah put home a crossed corner in the first minute of the second half for the only goal between Mercer and Jacksonville. Then the Bears featured an impenetrable defense to win their first Atlantic Sun Women’s Soccer Tournament Championship

Mercer (10-8-1) dominated play in the first half, out-shooting Jacksonville (13-5-2) 8-2 but couldn’t find the net. All-Atlantic Sun defender Kacie Hudson had the best crack at goal, just missing high on a free kick. The Bears’ attacking style paid dividends early in the second half. Senior Lizzy Shaughnessy set up the Kolliesuah goal with a corner kick into the box which was deflected by Patricia-Anne Upson.

Read the Atlantic Sun Insider Column: Mercer Seniors Lead the Way to Championship

The Bears defense limited the Dolphins, the conference’s top offense to only three shots, nearly 14 below their yearly average. The Bears snapped the Dolphins’ 14-game unbeaten streak at the Ashley Sports Complex (10-0-4). Jacksonville’s last home loss came at the hands of Mercer, also a 1-0 decision on October 2, 2009. Mercer also won the regular-season meeting, 1-0, in Macon.

Olivia Tucker, who scored twice in the Bears’ semifinal victory against Stetson won Tournament MVP honors. Fellow Bears Cagney Valloch, Sara Elliott, Kacie Hudson, Raschelle Riley, Lauren Johnson and Kolliesuah earned All-Tournament recognition. Valloch turned in a pair of shutouts at the A-Sun Championship. In the title game, she needed to make only one save. Jacksonville’s Courtney Conrad, Devon Dowell, Liz Fink and Becca Massip rounded out the 11-player All-Tournament team.

Saturday’s title game represented the sixth in the last eight years to feature the top two seeds. Mercer’s win improved the record of the second seed in those meetings to 1-3-2. The one-goal margin represents the 10th final in the last 11 years decided by one goal or in a shootout. Mercer lost two of those games, a 2-1 decision to Kennesaw State in 2007 and in a shootout against Belmont a year later.

Mercer will learn its destination for the NCAA Tournament during Monday’s NCAA Selection Show. The field of 64 gets unveiled at 4:30 on ESPNU.

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The Atlantic Sun Conference is an 11-member league committed to Building Winners for Life. The A-Sun stands for achievement with integrity in both the academic and athletic arenas, with a focus on the balance between the two for our student-athletes. Headquartered in Macon, Ga., the A-Sun boasts five of the top eight media markets in the Southeast. The A-Sun includes a blend of the most prestigious and dynamic private and public institutions in the region: Belmont University, Campbell University, East Tennessee State University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Jacksonville University, Kennesaw State University, Lipscomb University, Mercer University, University of North Florida, University of South Carolina Upstate and Stetson University