The No. 5-ranked Charlotte 49ers were unable to complete a late two-goal comeback against New Mexico Friday night, falling 2-1 in the Conference USA Championship semifinal. Daniel Bruce recorded the 49ers only goal, his fifth goal of the season.
The first half started off a bit slow but fired up more in the second half where senior Brandt Bronico and senior Luke Waechter led the 49ers comeback. Waechter dribbled down the pitch, passing the ball down to midfielder Bronico, who lost possession of the ball just inside the 18-yard box.
Bruce corralled the ball from Bronico, dribbled to his right and shot a rocket by the Lobos keeper, cutting the lead in half, now trailing 1-2.
“I thought for 70 minutes we were the dominant team. We had the most purpose and were the most likely to score for a long time there, but New Mexico had a good spell of play for 20 minutes and unfortunately for us, we had two lapses on defense where we, frankly, gave up uncharacteristic goals for us,” head coach Kevin Langan said.
The 49ers led the game with seven corner kicks for the night, while midfielders senior Maxi Rodriguez and sophomore Tommy Madden all had three shots each. Although the 49ers worked hard to keep the ball in play and continue to fight for their team to score, it wasn’t enough to bring home a win for the Niners.
“We’ve got to let this one settle in a bit,” coach Langan said. “We have to realize that if we lose another game, we go home and we didn’t play with that type of urgency tonight. We won’t be in any rush to forget this loss because when we do play again in the NCAA Tournament, we don’t want to feel like this again.”
The 49ers have been eliminated from the conference tournament, but will continue working hard for the NCAA Tournament, with the selection show coming up Monday at 1 p.m.