DALTON, Ga. – Junior Joy Mertzig wasted little time and drama in putting her name atop Georgia Gwinnett College women’s soccer career record book in Sunday afternoon’s match at Dalton State College.
Needing three goals to set the career program record, Mertzig had a hat trick that accounted for all the team’s scores in the Grizzlies’ 3-1 victory.
The forward has now collected 35 career goals, surpassing the previous mark (34) achieved by Nikki LeFevre from the 2013-16 seasons.
Mertzig also tied the single-game record with tallies in eighth, 30th and 72nd minutes of the road match. That’s the 12th hat trick in program history and the second of this season.
And remarkably it was the first hat trick of Mertzig’s glorious career.
The Stockholm, Sweden, native already owns the program record for scores in a season with 18 goals during the 2019 campaign.
“I knew where I stood going into the match,” said Mertzig, who has a team-high five goals this fall. “After not scoring in the last two matches I was getting a little worried if it would happen. But after the first one I relaxed and was even more relieved after the second goal, knowing that I had tied the record.”
Mertzig’s teammates contributed significantly to the record-setting effort. A crossing pass from junior Maya Alibudbud set up the first goal in the eighth minute.
“Maya hit the ball perfectly and knew where I was (near the opposing goal). I called for the ball after (Maya) got the ball to the end line,” Mertzig said.
A similar play, this time set up by a crossing pass from sophomore Bre Harvey, found Mertzig on the left side of the Dalton State goal in the 30th minute.
Mertzig capped her historic day with a breakaway goal in the 72nd minute. Sophomore Victoria Watson delivered a pass from the right side to create the scoring opportunity.
“Setting the record in a win is really nice,” she said. “Coming to GGC as a center back I didn’t know that these scoring records would happen. I am now motivated to score more goals and help the team achieve our goals for this season.”
Dalton State (4-4) scored its lone goal on a free kick in the 18th minute that tied the match at 1-1.
Sunday’s win improved the Grizzlies to a 4-2 record. It marked the first time this season that the team has recorded consecutive victories.
“This was a special day for Joy. We didn’t play our brand of soccer, but Joy found a way to carry us,” said head coach Dr. Mike Giuliano. “Who would have thought that a decorated center back defender would hold the record for most career goals?”
Sunday was all about junior Joy Mertzig’s historic achievement. She scored goals in the eighth and 30th minutes to give the Grizzlies a 2-1 lead. Needing just one more goal to stand alone atop the program’s career record, Mertzig won a ball against a Dalton State defender following a pass from sophomore Victoria Watson. The ball deflected off the opposing goalkeeper and Mertzig before the forward buried the ball into the back of the net in the 72nd minute.
8’ – Joy Mertzig, GGC (Maya Alibudbud)
18’ – Molly Duncan, DS (unassisted)
30’ – Joy Mertzig, GGC (Bre Harvey)
72’ – Joy Mertzig, GGC (unassisted)
The Grizzlies held a 13-5 shot advantage, including nine shots on goal. Junior Joy Mertzig recorded GGC’s second hat trick of the season to increase her season total to five goals.
GGC improves to 4-2 on the season, while Dalton State falls to 4-4 this fall. Sunday’s match is the second ever meeting between the two schools, both being GGC victories.
Georgia Gwinnett College is scheduled to travel to Campbellsville University (Ky.) on Thursday, September 16, at 6 p.m. in Campbellsville, Ky.