PEORIA, Ill. – The Mercer men's soccer team used two set piece goals and suffocating team defense to take a 2-0 win over Nebraska-Omaha in the opening game of the Hotels at Grand Prairie Classic on Friday evening at Shea Stadium.
Mercer (1-2) was out-shot by Nebraska-Omaha (1-1) 11-9, but held a 7-5 shots on goal advantage and a 4-2 edge on corner kicks over the Mavericks.
The Bears had two shots on goal within the first 11 minutes of play. A header by junior Ryan King and a shot by senior Richie Edmondson both found the target, but were saved by Nebraska-Omaha goalkeeper Matt Grosey.
Mercer's offensive pressure eventually paid off in the 31st minute thanks to a set piece play. Junior Joey Heavner bent in a free kick that King headed into the back of the net to give the Orange and Black a 1-0 lead.
Play would slow down at the start of the second half, with the Bears playing a little more conservatively with the 1-0 lead. Freshman David Murtaugh fired a shot wide in the 62nd minute, amounting to Mercer's lone offensive chance of the half thus far.
All that changed in a big way just two minutes later when the Orange and Black put in a second goal on an additional set piece. Heavner sent in another free kick service that senior Will Betts slid in past Grosey to give Mercer a 2-0 lead.
Mercer goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh made five saves to preserve his first shutout of the season while Grosey made four saves in a losing effort.
Mercer continues play in the Hotels at Grand Prairie Classic on Sunday afternoon when it takes on Hartwick. Game time is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Shea Stadium.