In Mercer’s Oct. 4 game against UNCG, soccer player Conner Antley came out ferociously in the first half, scoring the first goal of the game in only a minute and 32 seconds, and helping to lead the team to a 2-1 victory.
Antley said he considers UNCG to be one of their main rivals, and his dedication to beating them showed on the field.
“My philosophy as a player has always been to outwork other players,” Antley said. “If a player is going to beat me, it’s not because they’re working harder than me.”
Antley said he was taught this work ethic at a young age by his father.
Efforts like these are why Antley is the second highest scorer on the team and tied for fifth in goals in the Southern Conference.
When Antley first joined the team he played center-mid, but he has proven himself a capable center-back since being moved to the position midseason.
Antley said that he was attracted to play at Mercer because of the hardworking ethic amongst his coach and teammates.
“They always expect me to come out here, work hard and give my best,” Antley said. “I think whenever we practice, my teammates know that I’m a really competitive player.”
Men’s soccer coach Brad Ruzzo said in an email that he scouted Conner and his twin brother Ian while they were playing for their club soccer team. He was impressed by their competitiveness and their unwillingness to quit.
“They hated to lose,” Ruzzo said. “Competitiveness and passion are extremely important in our program and these players had it and still do.”
Despite the aggressiveness that he shows on the field, Antley’s pregame preparation isn’t so intense.
“I try to keep to myself. I try to listen to a lot of Christian music,” Antley said. “It really calms me down, soothes my soul.”
Antley said he first started playing soccer when he was six years old with Ian, who is also on the team. They have always played together on club teams ever since they were little.
“Even though they are twins they are different people and their own person,” Ruzzo said. “The number one thing I explained to both of them was that I will treat each of them as their own individual. I wanted each of them to have the chance to make their own name for themselves in our program.”
The twins have worked to do just that.
Antley said that his hopes for the season are to win Southern Conference regular season title and the conference title championship. So far, the team is off to a good start, winning two of their first three games.
“A goal for every college program in the country is to make it to the NCAA tournament. I think we really see that this year as a very possible option,” Antley said. “Right now we’re just focusing on each conference game at a time and moving forward from there.”
Conner Antley: Dedication to the field