MACON, Ga. – The Stetson women’s soccer team concluded its first season under head coach Manoj Khettry on Saturday night falling to Mercer in the first round of the Atlantic Sun Championship by a score of 1-0.
The fifth seeded Hatters finish the 2013 season with an overall record of 6-10-2, three more wins than the team’s total a year ago. The fourth seeded Bears improve to 10-7-3 on the season and advance to the A-Sun semifinals to be held next weekend in Fort Myers, Fla.
“I’m really proud and thankful for our seniors,” Khettry said. “I’m happy that they were able to come back to the A-Sun Tournament. Before this year we had three players with A-Sun Tournament experience, and now we have 23 players with that experience.
“The seniors made my transition to Stetson very easy,” Khettry went on to say. “They bought in early, they worked really hard, and they’ve led this program back to where it belongs…as a consistent participant in the A-Sun Tournament.”
Both teams had opportunities in the first half, including an early chance by Stetson’s senior Alyssa Welsh, who one-timed a cross that forced Mercer’s Maggie Cropp to make her first save of the contest.
Later on in the first frame senior Amber Grose ignited a Hatter counter with a pass up the middle to a sprinting Kait Jones. Jones found Welsh on a lay off, and Welsh was again stopped by Cropp, who finished with just two total saves.
Mercer was finally able to take the advantage the same way it did when the Bears won against Stetson in the regular season, off of a corner kick. One of seven corners in the match, Mercer’s Lauren Gassie played a ball into the box and found the head of Sadie Curry, who beat goalkeeper Amber Law and gave the Bears a 1-0 lead with only 32 seconds to play in the first half.
Stetson had chances to tie the game up in the second half, as a number of crosses went in and out of the box, but the Hatters couldn’t capitalize. Mercer’s lead held up and the Bears went on to advance to the league semifinals.
Mercer’s seven corners were three more than Stetson managed, finishing the night with four. The Bears also outshot the Hatters by a slight 11-8 margin. Law matched Cropp with two saves for Stetson in the loss.
“I’m proud of the effort my team gave,” Khettry concluded. “That’s the way you end a season. That’s the way you end a career. You leave everything out on the field. They did everything I asked.”