Niners stand at the ready during pre-game. Photo by Chris Crews

The Charlotte 49ers (7-3) pulled out an impressive 2-1 win against Western Kentucky (2-6-2) on the 25th anniversary of the team on Friday night at Transamerica Field. With over 40 former players in attendance, the team was able to advance to 5-0 at home this season.

Both teams jumped off to a quick start, as a total of three goals were scored in the first nine minutes. The 49ers were able to jump first, as they scored a goal to make it 1-0 just three minutes into the game, when Annie Sorando had a goal on the assist by Megan Greene. Just five minutes later, Greene would register another stat on the sheet as she slipped the ball to junior Sophie Sipprell, who would score.

“We wanted to show the alumni that the program is in good hands and some good young players are taking it forward,” said coach, John Cullen. “We wanted to show them what we could do, so we came off to a boiling start.”

Plans started to fall through, however, as the Hilltopers would score less than a minute later. After a corner kick by the Hilltopers, senior Megan Morris would score the goal from the top of the penalty box over the outstretched hands of 49er goalkeeper Abby Stapleton.

“We just gave away their lone goal too quickly. We were letting them get the ball upfield, they were passing the ball up too easy. We got to halftime, talked about it and managed to play much much better in the second half.”

Coach Cullen would spend the halftime making defensive adjustments to his team – adjustments which would allow zero shots by the Hilltopers in the second half.

The defense may have been clicking, but the offense still struggled at times. By the end of the night, the Niners would take 22 shots, with 10 of them on goal – seven of which would be saved by opposing goalkeeper Bailee Witt.

“Sometimes players try too hard to score, and sometimes you just need to relax a little on that final third, take that extra touch, and look up a bit more. But most of those shots we are usually better at putting away. We work hard in practice at putting those shots in, and hopefully next Sunday we put some of those away. But at the end of the day as long as we score one more than the opposition then that’s enough,” said Cullen.

The dominant performance by the defense capped off a three-game win streak in eight consecutive days against C-USA opponents, where they would outscore their opponents 10-2.

They will look to continue the trend when they host Marshall (5-4-2) on Sunday, Sept. 30 at 1 p.m.

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