After playing the Bears to a stalemate for most of the game, the Bucs (8-11, 5-4) finally broke through in the 80th minute with a header goal from Sarah Connolly off of a corner kick sent in by redshirt freshman Kendall King.
“(Kendall) can deliver such a good ball,” ETSU head coach Adam Sayers said. “She’s very technically sound, so we knew what she could do. With the set pieces, she’s very capable and we’ve got a lot of faith in her.
“The girls were fantastic today. We had a very specific game plan. They stuck to it and got the rewards.”
Eleonora Goldini was also credited with an assist on the score as she hit the ball initially on the corner kick and it went right to Connolly standing in front of the goal.
With more than 25 total fouls in the game, the match was physical from the start. That’s typically not how the Bucs like to play, and they had to adjust to it.
“We’re a very possession-oriented team and Mercer is a very athletic and strong team,” Sayers said. “We knew that we’d have to match that. When you play in that way, it can sometimes turn into a physical game.”
Mercer (9-7-4, 4-3-2) had four yellow cards in the match while ETSU had none.
Lee Ann Cutshall played outstanding in goal for ETSU, stopping four shots and keeping the Bucs in the game.
With her four saves, the Johnson City native now holds the ETSU all-time career record for saves with 222, passing Jasmine Elliot. She has also tallied 109 this season for the Bucs.
Both teams ended the day with six shots, but one of the key stats was that ETSU had five corner kicks while Mercer did not attempt one.
All of the Bears’ shots were in the first half, which speaks volumes about how well the defense played for ETSU after halftime.
One more record that fell on the night for ETSU was senior defender Isabel Hodgson making her 77th appearance for the Bucs, passing Cecilia Re for the most games played in a career. Hodgson has only missed one game in her career.
The Bucs will move on to the SoCon tournament semifinals in Macon, Georgia, on the campus of Mercer University to face second-seeded UNC-Greensboro on Friday, Nov. 2 at 6:30 p.m.