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Furman Falls Short Against Mercer In SoCon Semifinal, 3-2

Molly Dwyer
Molly Dwyer

Cullowhee, N.C. -- Mercer netted an own goal with 7:54 remaining in regulation to break a 2-2 tie and advance past Furman, 3-2, in the semifinal round of the Southern Conference Women's Soccer Championship on Friday night at the Catamount Sports Complex.

The win improved Mercer to 13-5-2 and earned the Bears a spot in Sunday's SoCon championship match against Samford.  Furman finished its season at 13-4-2.

"We kept fighting back tonight and played hard for 90 minutes, but the ball didn't bounce our way at the end," said Paladin coach Andrew Burr.  "We are proud of our seniors and the contributions they have made.  We will definitely miss each of them next season."

With under eight minutes left in regulation, Mercer's Tess Patton served a cross into the box from the right wing.  Furman's Hannah Stanifer attempted to head the ball clear of danger, but her header hit center back Claire Sullivan and deflected into the corner of the net at 82:06.

Furman rallied from a one-goal deficit twice to level the match before the deciding own goal in the final minutes.  Mercer grabbed a 1-0 lead at the 5:26 mark when Maddie Clark dribbled through the Paladin defense and fired a shot past Rose Hull.

The Paladins, who held a 9-3 edge in shots in the opening 45 minutes, controlled possession for the majority of the first half and created numerous chances.  In the 32nd minute, Stephanie DeVita played a ball from the box back into the path of India Robinson who slammed a shot off of the cross bar.  Four minutes later, Carlie Couch chased down a long ball into the left side of the box and was tripped from behind to earn a penalty kick for the Paladins.  Mercer's Maggie Cropp dove to her right to stop the low shot.

Furman finally found the equalizer in the 58th minute on freshman Molly Dwyer's fifth goal of the season.  DeVita played a pass from the central midfield to Dwyer on the right side of the box.  The forward settled the ball and laced a shot across the face of goal to beat Cropp to the left corner.

The Bears regained the advantage at 64:06.  Washida Blackmon ripped a shot from the middle of the box that Hull saved into the path of Kristen Hagaman who buried her shot into an empty net to give Mercer a 2-1 lead.

The Paladins knotted the match at 2-2 at 67:07 as DeVita lined a shot from right wing that Cropp redirected into the path of Carlie Couch who slid to beat her defender and knock the ball into the left side of the net.  The tying goal marked Couch's ninth tally of the season.

Furman finished with a 20-9 advantage in total shot attempts and 14-8 edge in shots on goal.  Hull stopped five shots for Furman, while Cropp turned away a career-best 12 shots for Mercer.

Jordan Caskey, Furman Sports Information