Mercer County Boys Soccer Team Finishes Regular Season with the No. 1 Ranked Defense

The Mercer County soccer team leads the state in goals against average (0.52) and goals allowed (11). Pictured are the teams defenders and goalkeeper from left to right: Juan Mercado, Chase Devine, Zack Phillips, Sawyer Ransdell and Heath Montgomery.

Daarik Gray

Herald Staff

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The Mercer County boy’s soccer team goes into every game with one goal, not to allow one. So far this year they have done an incredible job as they head into tournament play as the number one defensive team in the state.

Sawyer Ransdell, Heath Montgomery, Chase Devine and Juan Mercado have allowed opponents only 11 goals in 21 games, an average of only 0.52 per game. Both statistics are top in the state. They also have 12 shutouts on the season.

As good as they are, though, they know none of it would be possible without goalkeeper Zack Phillips.

“Zack has the quickest hands that I’ve ever seen. He has saved us many times and he is a big reason that we are where we are,” said Devine, who is playing defense for the first time in his soccer career.

“We’ve got confidence that if the other team gets a shot off, Zack will save it,” said Montgomery.

Phillips said it is just as comforting knowing anyone hoping to score on him has to go through the top defense in the state first.

“It really comes down to the defense. I can’t do anything without them,” said Phillips. “They take care of a lot of the work for me.”

Even though the Titans defense is top in the state, they say it helps having an offense that is equally effective on the other end of the field.

“The offense does a good job of keeping the ball at the top of the field,” said Ransdell. 

“It is beneficial to us because it gives us a break when they are keeping possession of the ball,” said Montgomery. “It also helps us out having to go against such a good offense in practice.”

So what makes this defense so special? 

“The main strength of the back line is their trust in each other,” said Mercer County Head Coach Garrett Stark. “They have been able to display a strong discipline and they support each other as a group by playing to a high standard on the field game by game.”

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