Merson stares down adversity

Katie Merson

Emily Arnold

Senior goalkeeper Katie Merson of the Georgia Southern University women’s soccer team has been learning how to look adversity in the face and not be defeated.

After tearing her ACL and meniscus this past summer, Merson has had to sit on the sidelines and watch her team play without her.  Regarding the team, Merson believes it has done very well despite the adversity of the year.

“We’ve faced a ton of adversity this year. We’ve had multiple injuries, seniors graduated so we’ve had young players step up to fill those spots. The word of the year is probably adversity,” Merson said.

Still contributing to the team, Merson has learned to be more of a vocal leader as well as carry water bottles, help the trainer whenever she can and help prepare and train the newest goalie for the adjustment from club soccer to Southern Conference soccer.

Albuquerque, NM native Katie Merson started playing soccer when she was only 3 years old, but instantly she fell in love with the game. Starting as a defender, goalie wasn’t her position until her middle school years.

“[As goalie] you see the whole game from a different point of view,” Merson said. “I really enjoy it.”

She fell in love with the game at an early age, and has wanted to play college soccer for as long as she can remember. At a tournament in North Carolina, Merson was seen by GSU recruiters and chose to be a part of this university her junior year of high school.

“My dad told me, hypothetically, ‘If you blow out your knee, pick a school where you’re going to be happy anyway.’ So I picked (GSU),” Merson said. “I am so happy I came here.”

Merson’s career here at GSU has been nothing short of incredible. As a freshman, Merson played in every game of the season, starting all but two.  She played a total of 1,330 minutes and made 60 saves. Starting in 16 games her sophomore year, Merson had four shutouts, 79 total saves, and played over 1,400 minutes.  She was also added to the 2011 SoCon Championship All-Tournament Team.

However, Merson’s most impressive season to date has been 2012, her junior year.  Playing every minute of every game, she finished the year with a conference best of 10 shutouts.

“We set our sights pretty high last year,” Merson said. “My goal was to get ten shutouts and everybody was like, ‘Ten shutouts? Last year you got four. Why would you jump from four to ten?’ I said nope, I can do ten. I’m going to do ten, just watch.”

Merson was named 2012 SoCon Championship Most Outstanding Player after shutting out No. 1 University of North Carolina at Greensboro in the quarterfinals, No. 5 Elon University in the semifinals and keeping a 0-0 score against Furman University in the finals, leading the Eagles to a 5-4 shootout victory.

Merson also has her name tagged to the awards SoCon Player of the Week (Sep. 4, 2012) and Disney Soccer/National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) National Player of the Week (Nov. 7, 2012).

“To be recognized nationally is awesome. It’s mind blowing. I didn’t ever dream that big and then getting that kind of opens your eyes that there is something bigger than South Georgia, and there is something bigger than the Southern Conference,” Merson said.

Along with those highly impressive awards, Merson was acknowledged to the 2012 SoCon Championship All-Tournament Team as well as the CollegeSoccer360.com Primetime Performers Weekly Honor Roll (Nov. 7, 2012).

Luckily for the women’s soccer program, Merson will be back for her final season in 2014. She will spend the year finishing her degrees in exercise science and therapeutic recreation along with a minor in health and promotion, as well as her acclaimed soccer career here at GSU.

Merson said, “I’ve already got a list of goals for next year. I’m excited about what’s ahead.”