Rising to the top

Ranked No. 9 in the nation, take a look at what makes 49er's soccer so successful

| September 20, 2016
Matej Dekovic celebrates after his goal in Monday's 1-0 victory against Coastal Carolina. Photo by Chris Crews.

Matej Dekovic celebrates after his goal in Monday’s 1-0 victory against Coastal Carolina. Photo by Chris Crews.

The men’s soccer team has hit the ground running this season, starting out 4-0-0 and they have yet to allow any goals. This is the first time the 49ers have started out 4-0 since 1998 when the squad began the season with a 5-0 run.

The squad sits inside the top 10 in national polls, however the 49ers are accustomed to the national spotlight. In 2011 the group made program’s first ever appearance in a national championship when they lost 1-0 to in-state foe UNC. In total the 49ers have made an appearance in 11 NCAA tournaments and spend a majority of their season in the national polls.

There are three main areas in which the 49ers excel, propelling them to the top of the national rankings.

Lending a helping hand

One thing contributing to Charlotte’s successes is the assist. Currently the 49ers lead the nation averaging 4.33 per game. The assist is a valuable stat to be ranked in, indicating solid ball movement and teamwork on the field.

Senior Brandt Bronico leads the charge in assists, being attributed to four so far in the season. Marco Sunol-Rojas is not far behind his teammate claiming responsibility for three assists in the four games played. Matej Dekovic falls next in line with two while Daniel Bruce and Ryan Spaulding each claim one assist.

By moving the ball around the field as much as the 49ers do it allows other players to become open, giving them a chance to take a shot at the goal.

Capitalizing opportunities

In the four games played in the season the guys in green have put up 14 goals in total. Charlotte’s offense has not gone unnoticed as it is ranked number one in the nation.

Five players on the Charlotte roster have found the net and tallied at least one goal this season. Sunol-Rojas, Harrison Steadman and Callum Montgomery are tied with three goals apiece. Next comes Daniel Bruce with two and Matej Dekovic who had the game winning goal against Coastal Carolina.

In total the Niners have racked up 14 goals in their four matches, averaging out to four a game. What allows the 49ers to score is the frequency at which they take shots. As a whole the team has taken 56 shots, 27 of those shots on goal creating a .482 percentage.

Saving the day

After being redshirted last season, goalkeeper Elliot Panicco has made his presence known on the field. So far this season the redshirt freshman has not allowed any goals, pushing 49ers to the top of the leader boards in save percentage, shutout percentage and team goals against average. He has not accomplished this easily, making ten saves thus far.

By building an impermeable barrier in front of the net, the 49ers can move the ball with more ease.

What’s up next?

The 49ers take a trip to the beach facing UNC-Wilmington for a matchup Tuesday. The Seahawks aren’t an easy opponent. They currently are ranked second in the nation in scoring offense, second to the 49ers. They are also behind Charlotte in points per game, coming in at second. Finally they rank third in the country in assists per game. Charlotte comes home in time for a home matchup against in-conferece foe FIU on Saturday. The matchup begins at 7 p.m. on Transamerica Field.

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Category:Men's Soccer, Sports

Kathleen Cook Kathleen Cook is the sports editor of the Niner Times and from Wake Forest, North Carolina. When the sophomore communication major/journalism minor isn't covering the 49ers, she enjoys spending time with her family, friend, and dog. Kathleen can also be found cheering on the Panthers every Sunday and rooting for the Washington Nationals.

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Kathleen Cook Kathleen Cook is the sports editor of the Niner Times and from Wake Forest, North Carolina. When the sophomore communication major/journalism minor isn't covering the 49ers, she enjoys spending time with her family, friend, and dog. Kathleen can also be found cheering on the Panthers every Sunday and rooting for the Washington Nationals.

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