The eighth-ranked Charlotte 49ers men’s soccer team defeated the 25th-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks 2-1 Wednesday night on the road, behind goals from Maxi Rodriguez and Matej Dekovic, beating yet another top-25 team. The Niners are now in sole possession of first place in the Conference USA standings, just ahead of USC and Kentucky.
“This was a tight hard fought Conference USA game,” coach Kevin Langan said. “We started the game off really well pushing hard and we scored an early goal. It looked like we would score another goal or two the way we were pushing the action. Then, South Carolina pushed back and scored to tie the game. I was really proud of our team in the way we responded in that we stood strong and scored the game-winning goal in the final 15 minutes. It was an incredible total team performance on the road against a quality opponent. We played with such strength and determination tonight.”
It didn’t take much time for the 49ers (10-2-1, C-USA 5-1) to get on the board, scoring in the fourth minute off of a rebound. Marco Sunol-Rojas took a shot on goal, blocked by the South Carolina goalie, sending it directly to Rodriguez, who sent it into the lower left corner of the goal. The goal proved to be Rodriguez’s first career goal.
“The most exciting part of scoring my first career goal was that it came in a big game,” Rodriguez said. “The most important thing tonight is that we got the win.”
The Gamecocks (9-5-1, C-USA 4-1-1), despite being outplayed the entire first half by Charlotte, scored in the 60th minute to tie the game, 1-1, behind a goal from Bjorn Gudjonsson’s.
Just 16 minutes later, the 49ers were set up 27 yards outside of the box, with Dekovic taking the kick. The senior defender bended the ball just over the USC wall, scoring in the upper left corner of the goal, and giving Charlotte a 2-1 lead.
That goal is the only goal that the eight-ranked Niners needed to take down their fourth ranked opponent of the season.
The Niners will welcome the Florida Atlantic owls to Transamerica Field on Oct. 29 at 7 p.m.