The Charlotte 49ers women’s soccer team played host to the Blue Raiders from Middle Tennessee Thursday night in the final game of the regular season. Charlotte entered the game sitting at eighth in the Conference USA standings needing a final win to get a guaranteed spot in the conference tournament.
Martha Thomas was able to net two goals to push the 49ers on to the 2-0 victory and giving them a spot in the postseason.
It took the 49ers (8-7-2, 5-4-1) no time to get on the board in the first half. In the third minute of play, Jessica Ryan pushed the ball forward to Maddie Kiebel who found Thomas for the goal. The goal was Thomas’ 10th of the season making her only the third player in program history to have double-digit goals scored in her rookie campaign.
That would be all for Charlotte in the first half as they were only able to get three more shots off. Middle Tennessee (8-8-2, 5-4-1) played much better defense throughout the half and ended up with a 7-4 shot advantage throughout the first 45 minutes.
The Blue Raider defense played equally well early in the second half keeping the 49ers out of the attacking third. However, Thomas’ offensive prowess was just too much for Middle Tennessee.
In the 79th minute of play, she received the ball at midfield and then was able to beat three defenders and the keeper unassisted for her second goal of the night giving Charlotte the 2-0 lead. The two goals were more than enough as Charlotte was able to end the regular season with a home victory.
Head Coach John Cullen’s message to the team before the game was, “Defend better, create more chances, and make more goals.”
This is exactly what the 49ers did in the critical win.
“We wanted to simplify the gameplan,” he said.
“I didn’t think we dominated. We did what we needed to do to win the game and that’s what’s important. You can ask no more of the girls. They blocked shots, they put their bodies on the line.”
The 49ers now have a guaranteed spot in the Conference USA tournament which will be held in Charlotte at Transamerica Field. Games will begin at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 5 with the championship game being played the following Sunday. Charlotte will play in the 7 p.m. game Wednesday, but their opponent is to be determined.