Senior Martha Thomas obtains possession of the ball. Photo by Pooja Pasupula.

The women’s soccer team headed down to Boca Raton, Florida to meet the Rice Owls for the opening round of the Conference USA Championship Tournament on Wednesday morning at 11 a.m. The Niners were ranked No. 8 heading into the week, but after a long game, they managed to pull ahead and beat the No. 1 Seed Owls with a final score of 1-0.

This win in the quarterfinals was sweet redemption for the 49ers after falling 0-1 to Rice only a few weeks earlier at home. This was also Charlotte’s first shut out against Rice and their first win in the teams’ five total meetings. The game came down to a single goal that was scored within the last few minutes of the game by senior and C-USA Offensive player of the year, Martha Thomas.

The winning goal came about with 87:11 up on the clock. Sophomore Megan Greene obtained possession of the ball and launched it over to Thomas, who was waiting open towards the middle of the 18-yard box. As soon as Thomas got a hold of the ball, she sent it with ease right past Maya Hoyer, the C-USA Goalkeeper of the year.

The Owls tried to even the score up until the very last minute. Annie Walker took a corner kick for Rice in the last 35 seconds of the game, but she was not successful. The 49ers walked away with their first win of the tournament, and Rice headed home with their first loss in the last 12 games.

That game winning goal was lucky number 13 for Thomas, which bumped her up to tie for the program’s all-time record. Her career total goals as a Niner is now up to 46 and counting, while runner up Whitney Weinraub ender her career with 39 back in 2010.

Rice led Charlotte in shots with 17-7, and in corner kicks with 8-3. Freshman goalkeeper Abby Stapleton had a total of seven saves in the net for the Niners, and Hoyer rounded out the game with two. Both teams fought hard and fair, ending the game without a single penalty or ejection.

This win clinches a spot for Charlotte in the semifinals, where they look to defend their championship title, and take on the No. 4 ranked Louisiana Tech on Friday at 11 a.m.

 

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Veronica Shoemaker is a sophomore at UNC Charlotte from Livonia Michigan. She packed up her life and moved down to North Carolina to chase a career in NASCAR. She is working towards a Communications and Spanish double-major with a minor in Journalism. She is also a huge sports fan, a part-time artist, and a writer for the Niner Times sport section.

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