The number three seeded Charlotte 49ers suffered their first home loss of the season, falling to the number one seeded Kentucky Wildcats 1-0 in the Conference USA Championship game at Transamerica Field. This is the second straight season Charlotte has fallen in the conference final.
“I thought we played really well and energized from the beginning of the game,” said Charlotte 49ers head coach Kevin Langan. “We forced the goalkeeper to make some incredible saves, we hit the woodwork and we really put them under a lot of pressure. It was just one of those days where all you can do is deserve to win.”
What may have been Charlotte’s closest chance came in the opening five minutes of the match. Charlotte had a breakaway chance to score, but both John Ranshaw and Maclean Holbrook shots would be denied by the post. Heading into halftime, Charlotte had 12 shots and seven corners compared to Kentucky’s three shots and one corner.
Two minutes into the second half, Kentucky got on the scoreboard. C-USA leading scorer J.J. Williams got through the defense and shot the ball past Charlotte goalkeeper Elliot Panicco. The Niners continued to try to find the back of the net in second half, but in the end, Charlotte could not find it.
The Niners ended the game with nineteen shots and ten corners compared to the Wildcats’ eight shots and four corners. Both Tommy Madden and Patrick Hogan led the 49ers with four shots apiece. However, out of 19 shots, only three of Charlotte’s shots were on target compared to Kentucky’s four shots on target.
Three 49ers made the all-tournament team: freshman striker Preston Popp, senior defender Callum Montgomery and junior midfielder Teddy Chaouche.
The 49ers will now wait to find out if they will play in the NCAA Tournament tomorrow, Monday, November 12 at 1 p.m.
“Like I said last year, I’ll be astonished if we are not in it. I’ll be astonished if we are not in it again,” Langan said. “We have had a great season, a great record. Some unbelievable records have been broken. Last year we were shocked. I could be shocked again tomorrow.”