After going up 1-0 early, the 49ers fell 3-2 to the Hokies
In the second round of the NCAA tournament, the Charlotte men’s soccer team fell 3-2 to an unranked Virginia Tech team. The 49ers (12-4-2) entered the tournament a 10 seed and received a bye for the first round.
During the first half the 49ers seemed to have found their stride. Daniel Bruce netted a rebound from his own header, giving Charlotte an early 1-0 lead. Including this goal, Bruce has recorded six goals this season. The Hokie goalkeeper didn’t get much rest as the Niners forced him to make three saves on six shots. Redshirt freshman Elliot Panicco was in the goal for the 49ers and, thanks to help from the Charlotte defense, only had to make one save during the first 45 minutes.
Bruce’s lone goal in the first half gave Charlotte the 1-0 advantage going to the locker rooms.
Not letting the 1-0 deficit faze them, Virginia Tech came out aggressive in the second half. A penalty kick by Marcel Acuna evened the score at 1-1 at the 50th minute. Less than 10 minutes later, another Hokie found the net, giving Virginia Tech the 2-1 lead with 30 minutes remaining in regulation.
With seven minutes left in the game, Bruce weaved his way through Hokie defenders and set up Brandt Bronico for his ninth goal of the season. The Bruce-Bronico combo gave the 49ers hope, tying the game at 2.
Virginia Tech sealed the deal in the 87th minute of the competition when Nico Quashie got the ball past Panicco and into the net. Charlotte stayed aggressive in the last three minutes, but to avail and were eliminated from the NCAA tournament.
After the tough loss, head coach Kevin Langan saw many opportunities for the team to have scored but he didn’t want to focus on the negatives.
“It’s tough to go through all the tactics. They scored three goals, we scored two. I thought we were in control in the first half and could’ve been up two or three. But as we know it’s the tale of two halves,” Langan said. “But it’s so hard to talk badly about this wonderful group of guys.”
The loss to Virginia Tech is the last game for five seniors on the squad: Mark Sloan, Maxi Rodriguez, Matej Dekovic, Luke Waechter and Bronico.
“This is a great team to play with. There’s a lot of talented guys and a lot of drive in the squad. These past four years have been tremendous and I wouldn’t have wanted to play with or under anyone else. I’m happy with my Charlotte career,” Bronico said.
Charlotte takes an eight-month hiatus from playing games. They now turn their focus to analyzing their play and rebuilding their team with the new recruits.