In the first round of the NCAA tournament, on a cold and wet evening, Charlotte (14-4-2) managed to advance over Georgia State (11-6-3) by way of penalty kicks in order to continue playing college soccer this season. Finishing 110 minutes of play tied 2-2 with only 24 shots to the Panthers’ 21, the Niners simply found a way after such a close and intense game of soccer.

“We expected a full battle from Charlotte and we certainly got that. I feel like we gave that as well,” said Georgia State head coach Brett Surrency. “It’s the NCAA Tournament, so it’s just survive and advance, you know, so you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to try and get through. But, you just have to find a way if you want to continue to play; and credit to Charlotte tonight, they found that way and they’ll move on.”

Quite early in the game, before the first 10 minutes had even passed, Dean Rutherford gave Charlotte the first score of the game assisted by Daniel Bruce. Shortly before the half ended, the Panthers tied it up with a goal by Aris Briggs, off of a ball from Hannes Burmeister.

In the 25th minute of the second half, Delasi Batse played a ball into the box and Daniel Bruce put it in the net to bring the score to 2-1 Charlotte. Not too long after the goal was scored, Bruce would receive his second yellow card of the night, now forced to leave the Niners a man down on the field. Georgia State would find the opportunity to tie up the score yet again and send the game into overtime periods.

Overtime went much like regulation time did. The Panthers and the Niners both put on the pressure the entirety of the night both offensively and defensively, not really missing a beat, and the score remained 2-2, sending the game into penalty kicks.

Up first for the Niners was Callum Montgomery to send his goal into the back of the net, giving the Niners a 1-0 advantage to start. The Panthers’ first attempt by George Proctor would hit the left post and next up for Charlotte would be Maclean Holbrook who would also manage to connect and give Charlotte a 2-0 advantage. Max Hemmings would send a shot high for the Panthers leaving Charlotte to continue on with the only penalty kicks made going into the third round. Tommy Madden took the next shot and forced Liam Fitzsimmons to make his shot and he also sent it high, allowing the Niners to win the shootout and advance to the second round.

“I’m just so happy to still be playing college soccer,” said Montgomery. “That was definitely an up and down game, but I thought it was unbelievable; we found a way to win and we came together. And the fans were unbelievable tonight; their support was amazing.“

Charlotte will travel to Virginia Tech (10-6-3) to play the Hokies on Sunday, Nov. 18 at 3 p.m. Virginia Tech is ranked 10th nationally and beat Charlotte 3-2 in their last meeting in 2016.

“I think we’re battle-tested, we’re battle-hardened and we have unbelievable experience just from these last eight days. This is our fourth knockout game and we’ve won in overtime now, we’ve won in pk’s, rallied from being behind, and in the final, we pushed the team all the way, so we have some unbelievable experience,” said Langan. “The key thing now is just to regenerate and to recover and this is a fit group. This is a really strong group; we could probably play every second day if we had to, so no worries there. We’ll patch up, see who’s healthy and spend two days getting ready, and then we can’t wait for Sunday.”

Photo by Chris Crews