BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Mercer men's soccer team fell behind early and its feverish comeback attempt came up just short in a 2-1 loss at #20 UAB on Friday evening at West Campus Field.
UAB (1-0) out-shot Mercer (0-1) 20-10 overall, but just 7-6 in shots on goal. The Bears did have a 9-6 edge in corner kicks in the contest.
Both teams traded quality chances in the first 10 minutes with Mercer's Josh Shutter and UAB's Chase Wickham firing shots on goal that both keepers managed to save.
The Bears had another quality scoring opportunity in the 31st minute when freshman Juan Jose Morales curled a free kick from about 30 yards away just over the crossbar to keep the score knotted at 0-0.
UAB continued to press forward on the offensive end as well and capitalized in the 33rd minute when senior Kofi Gyawu headed home a beautiful cross past Mercer goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh to give the Blazers a 1-0 lead.
The Blazers struck again just four minutes later, in the 37th minute, when freshman Ian Svantesson back heeled another cross low and past Ranjitsingh to extend UAB's lead to 2-0.
Mercer came out of halftime undeterred, however, and with a super aggressive mindset in the final third secured its first goal of the season on a set piece. Senior Joey Heavner whipped in a corner kick that classmate Will Betts headed home in the 48th minute to make the score 2-1.
The Bears had another chance in the 69th minute when junior Ryan King split a pair of Blazer defenders and rifled a shot on goal that was corralled by UAB goalkeeper Raphael Ville to keep the score 2-1.
In the end, however, Mercer's offensive pressure just wasn't enough as a last minute flurry by the Bears came up short.
Both Ranjitsingh and Ville made five saves apiece in the contest.
Mercer continues its season opening road trip when it travels to North Carolina to take on ACC member NC State on Sunday afternoon. Game time is scheduled for 4 p.m. at Dail Soccer Field.