Panthers beat Mercer Bears 4-2 in Southeast Challenge

Justin Guest, the prolific and proven scorer, will bring his talent to a men’s soccer team oozing with potential. Photo submitted by Josh Ellis

Georgia State men’s soccer returned to action on Feb. 29 as they toppled opposing Mercer 4-2 at MOBA Soccer Complex in Peachtree City, Georgia. 

The game is the first of five that the team will play in their Southeast Challenge exhibition tournament that will continue until March.

The men’s last appearance ended excruciatingly when they fell to Coastal Carolina in penalty kicks in December. Since then, the Panthers have played zero games and had a few injuries in practice.

The Panthers picked up right where they left off, getting a high-quality strike from forward Aris Briggs in the 20th minute that ultimately sailed wide.

Just minutes later, Briggs would make a run at goal before possessing his own rebound and wedging a shot at the tightest of angles into the net for the first score of the night. The goal would create an accurate representation of Briggs’ performance throughout the night, despite somewhat limited playing time.

Mercer would strike back less than three minutes later, beating starting goalkeeper Paul Tyson and tying the score at 1-1.

In the 29th minute, Matthew Fearnley drove a shot from just outside of the penalty box, past Mercer’s goalkeeper and into the net. This would not be the only time Mercer had woes at the goalkeeper position, as the team struggled to protect their own goal throughout the night.

The Panthers were awarded a penalty kick moments later that gave the team a 3-1 lead.

Despite their defensive struggles, Mercer continued a relentless air attack that saw the team cut the lead to just one at the half.

The Panthers put the nail in the coffin in the 81st minute when Justin Guest converted on a spectacular curler from well outside the penalty box, giving the team a commanding 4-2 lead.

Head coach Brett Surrency was proud of the performance from his team on the night but also made it clear that there is a lot of work ahead.

“I thought we scored some really good ones,” Surrency said when assessing his team’s four-goal performance. “I was disappointed [with] the goals we considered. I thought we could have been a lot sharper; it allowed them to get back into the game.”

Injuries also played a role in the team’s first game back in over two months.

“Injuries have hit us pretty hard,” Surrency said. “I just wanted the guys to show some competitive fire and some passion and some pride in what they’re doing.”

Surrency also noted that as the team continues on in the tournament, they will look to strengthen as a group.

“We have a foundation now; now, we have something to work off of,” Surrency said. “We know where we are right now. As we go into training next week, it’s a little bit of a different focus, and we will try and improve some of the areas where we were not as successful.”