Weddington junior led the way for the Warriors this season
by Aaron Garcia
At this point, Auburn Mercer has gotten used to the funny looks she gets when her future University of Alabama soccer teammates first hear her name. Some have assumed it’s Amber or Autumn. But no – it’s Auburn, just like the name of Alabama’s archrival.
“The (Alabama coach) kind of told (the players), ‘OK, look, her name is Auburn. She’s named after a color. It’s just how it happened,’” Mercer said with a laugh.
This season in Union County, however, Mercer’s given name came second to the one she made for herself on the pitch as a Weddington junior. As one of the team’s midfielders, Mercer netted 18 goals and distributed 13 assists while leading the Warriors to a 15-5-2 overall record, which included a heart-breaking extra-time loss to eventual Class 3A state runner-up Charlotte Catholic. She was named to the N.C. Soccer Coaches Association’s All-State team for her efforts. Now, she can add the title of Union County Weekly’s 2012 Girls Soccer Player of the Year to the list.
Mercer, who also received recruiting interest from schools such as Virginia Tech, South Carolina, South Florida and Tennessee, pointed to her selection as a team captain as one of the driving forces behind her success this season.
“When it came down to it, I knew I needed to dig in and score when I had a chance,” said Mercer. “Whenever we were down a goal and (my teammates’) heads were dropping, you’ve got to pick them up (by saying things such as), ‘Hey, come on! Let’s go!’
“That was my main goal (for this season), just leading the team.”
According to Warriors coach Powell Williams, Mercer possesses an unusual presence on the field, which, along with her 4.1 GPA, has her leaning toward graduating a semester early from Weddington and joining her Alabama team next spring.
“I think that’s what makes her the player she is: Not only does she have the skill, not only does she see the field and do the right stuff – she’s a physical player,” Williams said. “That’s why going to college early makes sense for her. I wouldn’t recommend that to any kid that’s just good (at soccer).
“She plays like, ‘I’m going through you,’ and that’s what separates her overall.”
“I’m strong on the field,” she said when asked about her strengths as a player. “I shoot well with my right foot and my left foot. I wouldn’t say I’m the fastest person on the field, but I can get where I need to be.”
Even if it’s a year early.