Denzel Davis


Charlotte baseball sets new highs at Charleston Southern

Harris Yett is greeted at home by his teammate. Photo by Chris Crews.

The 49ers set a new season high in a 14-3 win over Charleston on Wednesday. The offense also recorded a season high 17 hits to accompany the high scoring win.

“We bounced back after a tough weekend,” Head Coach Loren Hibbs said. “We played really well and took care of business. I’m really proud of our effort, we’re getting closer and we now to have another good practice tomorrow to get ready for the weekend.”

Going into the second inning Charlotte was down 1-0, the only time they would trail in the game. Drew Ober  lead off being hit by a pitch to put him on first base. Dominick Cammarata moved Ober up 90 feet. Then a single from Hunter Jones brought Ober across the plate to tie the game at one run a piece. Tommy Bullock then sent the ball into center field with a single, pushing two runners home and giving the Niners a 3-1 lead.

Charlotte brought the big stick into the third inning with big hits from Harris Yett and Ober to extend the lead even further to 5-1. Cammarata was batted in by Jones giving the Niners the last run of the frame.

Alex Andronica for Charleston Southern retaliated by sending out a solo home run during the third inning to bring the score to 6-2. The Niners however were quick to respond. Reece Hampton opened the fourth with a single and then Jackson Mims took the walk onto first setting up Yett to clear the bases with a single to center creating an 8-2 game.

The Niners would continue to put on a batting expo sending balls to all corners of the field to further solidify their blowout win.

Hampton, Mims, Ober, Cammarata, Jones and Tete Pennington each put up two hits, but Yett lead his team with three hits and three runs in the game.

Colby Bruce picked up his first win of the season allowing only two and collecting three strikeouts. Patrick Szczypinski, Joy Cooner and Chase Goodling would wrap up the night allowing only one run between the three pitchers.

Charlotte returns home to Hayes Stadium this weekend for back to back double headers, hoping to keep the fire alive. Friday the action kicks off at 3 p.m. against Sienna.

Men’s tennis with clean sweep

The Niner’s men’s tennis team swept through their weekend matches in dominant fashion, collecting eight singles wins and four doubles wins in their double header vs Presbyterian and Georgia Southern at Halton-Wagner Tennis Complex.

In the first match versus Georgia Southern, Luca Keist and Benjamin Wayand lost to Diego Finkelstein and Eddie Landin, 6-2. This was the only doubles win Georgia Southern would earn. The Niners won the final two of the three doubles matches to give the Niners the doubles points. Sam Rice and Constandinos Christoforou won 6-4 over Stefano Di Aloy and Artemie Amari. They were followed up by another Niner victory from Oriol Puig Forne and Leonardo Menezes, the pair defeated Murphy McCullough and Santiago Suarez, 6-3.

Charlotte secured the overall victory after winning five of the six singles matches. Keist set the tone for Charlotte winning the first singles match 6-3, 6-4 over Di Aloy. Georgia Southern’s Landin was the only member of his team to get a singles match win. Landin won over Christoforou in three sets, 1-6, 6-2, 6-3. Wayand for Charlotte won 7-6, 6-2 over Amari in the third single.

Puig Forne kept the win streak alive after battling out three sets with Finkelstein, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6. The number five singles match was won 6-4, 6-4, two close sets won by Charlotte’s Menezes over Pascal Wagemaker. Scotty Cameron for Charlotte won the sixth and final single over Southern’s Suarez, 4-6, 6-4, 1-0.

Charlotte defeated Presbyterian in the doubles matches to once again gain the doubles points.

The first match was lead off by Charlotte’s Keis and Wayand who won the match 6-4 over Alexander Lykou and Brandon Mills. Charlotte’s Rice and Christoforou defeated Jaime Castillo-Lope and Alejandro Bejar, 6-4 in the second doubles match to secure the Charlotte win. The number three doubles, was the only singles match win for Presbyterian. Will Baird and Daniel Stenger beat Puig Forne and Menezes, 6-3.

The singles matches against Presbyterian were the hardest the Niners were pushed in the whole day of tennis. They split the singles matches 3-3. Keist for Charlotte struck first against Presbyterian’s Lykou with a 7-6, 6-4 win. The number two single belonged to Presbyterian after Mills defeated Christoforou, 6-2, 6-3. Number three singles, was won by Charlotte’s Wayand 6-4, 7-6 over Bejar.

The fourth singles match was the only match to go to three sets. Presbyterian’s Lopez went the distance to come out with the win over Puig Forne, 6-4, 0-6, 6-4. Stenger gained back to back set wins for Presbyterian after defeating Menezes, 7-6, 6-4 over Charlotte in the fifth singles match.  The sixth and final match tied the sets after Cameron for Charlotte ended the day with a win over Baird, 6-1, 6-2.

Charlotte hits the road to take on Penn in Philadelphia next Saturday, March 3rd.

Wolfpack send Niners home

Joey Cooner delivers a pitch against Iona. Photo by Chris Crews

The Niners lost 9-6  (3-1) to in-state rival NC State (4-1)  after a long and emotionally draining game. Niners fought back from a 5-0 deficit, but a pitching struggle lead to the top-25 ranked Wolfpack taking away the victory.

“We have to do a better job commanding the strike zone,” Head coach Loren Hibbs said. “We have to do a better job moving around playing defense and have our RBI guys have better at-bats in situations when we have runners in scoring position. It was good to come up here and play a really good team on the road, we’ll see if we learn from it and I think we will.”

A defensive shootout ensued for the first four innings, but Brock Deatherage broke the ice with a triple in the bottom of the fourth inning. With two outs, Joey Cooner made a motion without throwing the ball which constitutes a balk and moved Deatherage home for the first run of the game.

The Wolfpack extended their 1-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth. Brad Debo lead the charge by getting on base with a double and another member of the Pack drew a walk placing two runners on with two outs. Shane Shepard brought both runners in with a stand-up double, making the game 3-0. Dillon Cooper and Josh McLain both drove in runs to create a 5-0 lead after six. All four of the runs brought in that inning came with two outs.

Charlotte responded in the top of the seventh. Jackson Mims stole second after knocking a single to left field. Harris Yett registered an RBI, bringing Mims in for the first Niner run of the game off a single. A wild pitch moved Yett 90 feet to second base, and was then brought home by Zack Smith’s double. With the score now 5-2 in favor of the Wolfpack, Dominic Cammarata drew a walk and  Hunter Jones had a sacrifice fly that brought in Smith.

Todd Elwood got on base with a walk and then Tommy Bullock brought in Cammarata with an RBI double, 5-4. Reece Hampton cleared the bases with a two-run single that gave the 49ers their only lead of the day, 6-5.

The Niners sat down all three Wolfpack players with a three-up three down the bottom of the seventh, but the Wolfpack returned to secure their win with four runs in the final two innings.

Cooner lasted 5.2 innings on the mound with three hits and two runs. Philip Perry was dealt the loss after throwing 1.2 innings. The 49ers and NC State both used six pitchers during the outing.

Both teams excelled offensively with two outs on the board. Half of Charlotte’s runs and seven of NC State’s runs came under these circumstances.

“We told our kids at the end of the game this is the way it’s going to be,” Hibbs said. “We play a top-50 schedule every year so all we can do is make the adjustments we need to at Georgia on Friday.”

Charlotte continues their road-trip traveling to the University of Georgia for a three-game series. The series begins on Friday with first pitch set for 6 p.m. The entire three-game series can be viewed on ESPN 3.

Softball goes 0-2 against USC Upstate

Bethany Doty waits for the play to unfold. Photo by I. Chimena.

South Carolina Upstate swept the Niners in a double-header on Tuesday to protect their perfect early record at Sue M. Daughtridge stadium.

Game One – Upstate 4, Charlotte 1

Christina Biggerstaff for the Spartans and Haley Wiseman for the Niners both pitched shutouts throughout the first seven innings. Both teams were scoreless going into the forced extra innings. The Spartans caught momentum and rounded the bases four times to give them a 4-0 lead going into the bottom of the eighth frame.

With the international rules for softball in effect, the Spartans started the eight inning with a runner on second. After two infield singles, the Spartans found themselves in good scoring position. A blunder from the Niner defense coupled with two sacrifice flies from Upstate gave them a 4-0 lead.

Charlotte had three outs to stage a comeback.

Lizzy Birch was placed on second to start the bottom of the eighth before Becca Shipper was walked to first base. Both runners were advanced 90 feet after Kiersten Berrier was thrown out at first base putting them in a position to score. Haley Pace then popped up a sacrifice fly to give the 49ers the only run of the game.

Game 2 – Upstate 3, Charlotte 2

In game two both teams got off to a faster start, both putting up runs in the second inning.

Jude McGough hit her first career double at the top of the frame and the Spartans registered the first run of the game. Erin Powers responded by scoring a run off a ground ball up the middle.

Karla Beasley sent a home run into left field to give the Spartans back the lead in stylish fashion in the fourth, but the Niners tied the score back up in the bottom of the fifth.

Berrier laid down a clean bunt up the third base line to move Shipper to second after she was walked in her first at bat of the inning. Pace advanced both runners and loaded the bases for a hungry Beatty who was ready to get the game back in the Niners favor.

She battled at the plate fouling off a pitch that seemed to be in fair play and would have scored two runs. After it was overturned, Beaty still advanced all runners by sending the next pitch into left. The hit sent Shipper home giving the Niners their last run of the game.

Charlotte returns to action this weekend as they take on Towsend and Oakland in their second tournament of the season. The tournament kicks off Friday with the games beginning at 11 a.m.

Charlotte’s Women’s Basketball getting better with age

Players and coaches look on from the bench. Photo by Chris Crews.

Charlotte Women’s basketball has been having one of their more difficult season. A six win, 11 loss record is nothing to post on the twitter page. After all a .35 win percentage isn’t what the great basketball teams of the NCAA normally clock in with. The Niners however have not lost faith on their season. They have gone 2-3 since conference play has begun. Coach Consuegra is continuing to work with the staff on what exactly is going on with the team.

“The struggle with us is putting together 40 minutes and understanding the streaks and spurts that happen throughout a game. We can go from taking really good shots and getting stops and quickly go to taking really bad shots which result in really easy scores for our opponent.” Consuegra said in an interview on their upcoming game against conference powerhouse Rice.

It is not an issue of talent as Charlotte has recruited a competitive and skilled class in the off-season.

Octavia Wilson, freshman guard for Charlotte, led her high school team to the state semifinals in Maryland where her team had a 21-4 record and was undefeated during regional play, 14-0. Wilson averaged 23 points per game as a junior and was ranked second in her class in the Washington D.C. area.

Mariah Linney graduated from Goose Creek high school where she led her team to a state championship where she dropped 16 points, eight rebounds and 7 steals in the title game. As a senior she averaged 16 points, 5 rebounds, 5 steals and 4 assists. The now freshman guard for Charlotte was also able to post 1,401 points at her time at Goose Creek High school along with 496 assists.

“Its  been a struggle to teach some thing that  just takes experience and older kids on the roster which we don’t have a lot of. We’re trying to work through that and continue to get better and film work this week has really helped with that.” Said Consuegra.

The Niners as a team shoots at 40 percent from the field and rebound well averaging nearly 40.1 rebounds per game.

Junior returner Nyilah Jamison-Myers who averages five rebounds per game and Dara Pearson who averages eight both play a big part in the high rebounding numbers. Laia Raventos, a junior guard who started last season for the Niners, is having an amazing individual season shooting 50 percent from three-point range and averaging 15 points per game.

There is no question that there is superior talent on the team, but putting all the pieces together to work as one is a battle in and of itself.

“Were just trying to tune things up and continue to get sharp at this point in time of the year you’re not gonna make major explosive changes and the truth is were close enough that we don’t need too. It’s the little things like a lot of film work,” Consuegra said. “What I see in practice is improvement and now it’s just a matter of putting it into the games.”

The team will only graduate two members of the team, leaving the possibility of 11 returners for next season. There is still time to make significant improvements for conference play and the Niners will fight to make the most of this season but we can look forward to seeing this team grow and mature into a squad that does real damage in Conference-USA play.

Charlotte claims win over Clemson

Charlotte 49ers (3-2) defeated the Clemson Tigers(1-1) at Lifetime Fitness in South Charlotte. Niners took four singles matches to win 4-3, including a nail-biting win from Benjamin Wayand.

Clemson showed up for the doubles matches where they won two point behind two duos: Alex Favrot and Simon Baudry as well as Sam Edwards and Yizhou Liu. Favrot and Baudry defeated Charlotte’s Wayand and Sam Rice 6-2 in the first double. Liu and Edwards won the second 6-3 against Charlotte’s Luca Kesit and Constandinos Christoforou. The third double was stopped 5-4 with Charlotte’s Alejandro Garcia Moreno and Oriol Puig Forne leading Clemson’s Carlos Keladidis and Mashal Dagostine 5-4.

The 49ers took four single’s wins after being bested by Clemson in most of the doubles matches to get the win overall. The number six singles belonged to Puig Forne who earned his third straight singles win over Clemson’s Dagostine, 6-1, 6-1. Clemson showed its fight in the fifth single where Liu defeated Charlotte’s Leonardo Menezes 6-2, 6-2.  Charlotte’s Keiss also got his third straight win in single number one with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Clemson’s Favrot who is ranked 47th in ITA singles rankings.

Number three singles were also won by Charlotte. Chrisoforou joined other members of his team to have a three-match streak with a win over Clemson’s Edwards 6-2, 6-4. Charlotte’s Garcia Moreno could not come out on top versus Clemson’s Baudry. Baudry, the 91st ranked ITA singles competitor, was taken three matches by Moreno with the final count being 6-2, 1-6, 6-4, in favor of Clemson’s Baudry. The number four singles match was the highlight of the afternoon when Charlotte’s Wayand played a in a long match where the final point was the biggest battle but was able to cap off the match with a win over Clemson’s Kelaidis to solidify the overall win for the Niners.

The Niners return to the court with two matches at Lifetime Fitness next Saturday, January 27. The first against UNC Asheville at 10 a.m. and finish off the day versus South Carolina State at 6 p.m.


Charlotte runs for the record books

Charlotte Track & Field. NT File Photo

Charlotte showed up and put on an exceptional performance at the Keydet Invitational hosted by VMI. The men’s team took second while the women placed third on Saturday. Stevan Vaselinovic took first place in the weight throw with a 19.34m toss leading the charge of excellent performances from the field athletes.

“It was a productive meet with a number of improvements from last week with several personal bests and top ten all time performances,” Head Coach and Director of Track and Field and Cross-Country Bob Olesen said.  “I think we still have some residual effects from winter break but showed development in race fitness and field eventers were able to make important technical adjustments in competition.”

In pole vault, Sage Murphy tied Jacob Davis with a 4.60m jump awarding him third place while Davis took fourth. Elijah Cole took fifth with a 4.45m height and Nathan Jeffers cleared 4.30m and finished in eight pushing the Niners up the standing with top 10 performances.

In shot put, the Niners were able to give another top ten ranking performance among their competitors. Sasha Dajia and Terrell Adams took the top two spots while Tyler Hoag placed ninth with a personal best throw of 15.40m. Daija took first with a 16.79m toss just short of a personal record while Adams took second with a distance of 16.68m.

Thanks to Markel Dalton and Dandrell Utley, the Niners had to two competitors in the top four of the triple jump. Dalton took second with 15.22m jump with Utley taking fourth at 14.33m. Together the pair came in fourth and sixth in the long jump with a 6.92m jump from Dalton awarding him fourth and a 6.71m from to Utley for sixth.

The Niner men were ready with their shoes laced when it came to the running events with three members earning top five finishes. Mihret Coulter took fifth in the 3,000m dash with a 8:23.35 the sixth fastest time in school history and also a personal best run. Woodard finished the 400m in 48.34 giving him third, while Baker claimed fifth in the 60m hurdles in 8.25 seconds.

The women’s track team’s running performance pushed them to third place in the final scores.

Caroline Sang came in first place in the 3,000m dash with a 9:33.66 time, while Brittany Stanley also ran the 3,000 in 10:02.51 taking fifth. Sang gave us an effort that is ranked as the second-best time in school history.

Three more Niners posted personal best runs on Saturday with Alex Council giving 7.42 second performance in the 60m dash winning the race, while Kristen Williams came in third in the 500m in 1:14.59. Cemere Petty set her own record with 57.64 in the 400m.

NyAsia Daniels, Kiana Lee, Petty and Williams came in second in the 4×400 meter relay in 3:48.59, while Elbert continues to decorate her name with accomplishments throwing another personal best throw of 17.75m moving her to third for the 49ers all time performance list. She placed third with 15.09m toss.

Charlotte will compete this Friday and Saturday in the Thundering Herd open in Huntington, W.Va to continue their push.

Niners push personal records at Vulcan Invitational

Charlotte Track & Field. NT File Photo

Tori Elbert a senior shock putter set a school record with a 15.28m at the Vulcan Invitational hosted by UAB. Elberts throw got the Charlotte women’s track team off to a good start on Saturday.

Kayla Moore jumped 5.56 meters to take fourth in the long jump as Brittany Stanley ran a 5:04.18 in the MILE winning second place.

“We had some fine performances today mostly from those that really put in some work over the winter break,” said Bob Olesen, Director of Track and Field and Cross-Country.  “We definitely have some work to do though getting into competition mode now that we are back on campus and competing weekly.”

Steven Veselinovic, Keon Howe, Sage Murphy, Eli Cole and Markel Dalton all performed exceptionally at the Vulcan Invitational.

Steven Veselinovic and Markel Dalton both places second in their event with impressive numbers. Veselinovic tied his own school record with a 20.28m weight throw while Dalton recorded his first indoor triple jump over 15m, with a 15.34 m leap. Not only was it a personal best for but fourth best jump in school history.

In Pole Vault, the niners had three contenders in the top 5. Howe with second (4.85m), Murphy with third (4.70m) and Cole with fifth (4.55m).

Zach Marchinko came in second with the 3000m (8:39.59). Jayon Woodard would win seventh in the 200m (21.69) and sixth in the 400m (48.12) while Todd Gunzenhauser dug hard for second-place running the MILE in 4:17.60. Steven Barker took third in the 60-meter hurdles (8.21), just two one-hundredths of a second from beating his own record.

“We will get to work this week on things we saw today and look for progress at VMI next weekend as the conference event rankings begin to take form,” Olesen said.

The 49ers look to improve at the Keydet Invitational, hosted by VMI this Friday and Saturday.

Western Kentucky remains undefeated in win over Charlotte

Andrien White goes for the ball against WKU. Photo by Chris Crews

Charlotte (5-11, C-USA: 1-4) lost their third straight conference game after falling 73-63 to Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (13-5, C-USA: 5-0). Despite the scoring efforts of Jon Davis and Andrien White, who combined scored 44 of Charlotte’s 63 points, Western Kentucky remains undefeated in conference play after the win in Halton Arena.

“Western Kentucky is a really talented basketball team with a lot of veterans,” Charlotte 49ers interim head coach Houston Fancher said. “I would say they are probably the oldest team in our league as far as experience so it is a veteran team and a veteran starting lineup and they made some tough plays when faced with adversity. The underlying factor right now is the Niners are playing their tails off, effort wise. I am really proud of what we are doing from an effort standpoint. I love the way we never stopped playing until the horn went off. Now we made mistakes and we missed some shots that we don’t normally miss but I am really pleased with how our team competed tonight.”

Junior center Jailan Haslem dominated the boards pulling down 12 rebounds giving him his second double digit rebounding night of the season. Haslem battled versus the Hilltoppers 6-foot-7 forward Justin Johnson who pulled down 14 and 6-foot-10 center Dwight Colbey who had 12 boards of his own

Charlotte wasn’t able to get much production off the bench as only the starting five for the Niner’s scored. Austin Ajukwa added nine points to accompany Najee Garvin’s six which came early in the game.

Garvin scored the first points of the game which was followed by a bucket from Haslem to give the Niners a 4-0 lead to start the game. Lamonte Bearden responded with two and-one buckets giving the Hilltoppers the 5-4 lead with 15:54 in the first half.

Bearden would finish with 19 points and acted as the momentum killer for the Niners. Charlotte played from behind most of the game with nearly every run of momentum cut stopped by a bucket from Bearden. He lead his team in scoring with his 19.

With 9:46 Charlotte came within three after a dunk from Haslem making the score 15-12 but WKU would make a run giving them a 21-12 wth 7:25 remaining. WKU held Charlotte to 0-7 from three point range and just 20 points. WKU started the second half with an 8 point lead, 28-20.

Down 44-31 with about 14 minutes in the game Charlotte made an 8-0 run that them within five. With 12 minutes left on the clock WKU made another run to give them a 48-39 lead.

Charlotte had a few opportunities down the stretch to push the game to overtime after a 6-1 run which put them within four, but late game turnover and missed free throws allowed the Hilltoppers to extend the lead back to 10 and close the game out with a win 73-63.

The Niners return to action in Boca Raton, Florida Thursday January 18th at 7 to continue their Conference USA play.

Charlotte swept through in double header

Men’s tennis head coach Jeremy Feldman. NT File Photo

Charlotte was defeated by Tennessee in a double header taking losses in both matches of the season-opener. The 49ers won the doubles point in the first set but that would be their only win of the day. Tennessee went ahead to win the first match 6-1 and second 7-0.

The Niners shined in the first match doubles point after a win at number two and three. Charlotte’s Sam Rice and Benjamin Wayand of Charlie took a 7-5 lost to Andrew Rodgers and Alejandro Garcia Moreno of Tennessee at the number three doubles. Charlotte took the the number two doubles with Luca Keist and Constandinos Christoforou clinching a 6-4 win over Timo Stodder and Nicaise Muamba giving Charlotte their doubles point.

Tennessee swept through Charlotte in all six singles matches to gain the overall victory. Charlotte’s Wayand lost to Tennessee’s Walton, 6-2, 6-1 at number four singles. At number one singles, Charlotte’s Keist was defeated by Tennessee’s Timo Stodder, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4. number six singles was won by Tennessee’s Rogers in three sets, 6-3, 4-6, 6-1. In number five singles, Charlotte’s Leonardo Menezes lost to Tennessee’s Luca Wiedenmann,6-3, 7-6. Number three singles Garcia Moreno of Charlotte lost to Tennessee’s Muamba, 6-4, 7-5. At number two singles,Tennessee’s Touliatos defeated Charlotte’s Christoforou in three sets 6-3, 6-7 (1-7), 6-2.

Tennessee remained in control starting off the second match in the double header and won two doubles matches to gain the doubles point. Number one doubles belonged to Tennessee’s Walton and Touliatos who posted a 6-2 win over Charlotte’s Rice and Wayand. Number three doubles was the same story as Charlotte’s Puig Forne and Garcia Moreno fell to Tennessee’s Rogers and Luis Valero, 6-4. Charlotte’s Keist and Christoforou were leading Tennessee’s Stodder and Muamba in the number two doubles, 5-3, before the match was called since Tennessee already gained the doubles point.

Tennessee swept through Charlotte in all six singles matches for the overall victory. Tennessee’s Rogers took number six singles over Charlotte’s Puig Forne, 6-1, 7-5. Number four singles belonged to Charlotte’s Wayand, 6-2, 6-3. At number two singles, Charlotte’s Christoforou lost to Tennessee’s Touliatos, 6-2, 6-4. Number one singles was again taken by Tennessee’s Stodder over Charlotte’s Keist, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4. Tennessee’s Wiedenmann won number five singles over Charlotte’s Menezes, 6-3, 6-4. Charlotte’s Garcia Moreno lost number three singles to Tennessee’s Muamba, 6-4, 6-3.

Charlotte returns to action Friday, January 19 at Lifetime Fitness, the Onyx Premier Club in Charlotte where they host Gardner-Webb and UNC Greensboro in two home season opening matches.

Love of the Game

Elliot Panicco walks away from the goal after a game. Photo by Chris Crews

Every child at least once dreams of being a professional athlete. The thrill of the game, the cloak winding and the cheers of the crowd is a rush that every person dreams of. The difference between making these dreams reality is a love for the game and a love for the bitter work that Elliot Panicco has always had.

“I started playing soccer when I was about 4 or 5 years old. I started playing goalkeeper when I was about 12 and fell in love,” said Panicco.

The opportunity to play in coleege for Panicco was not just a far off dream. Between all of the long hours spent on the field in high school, and his love for soccer, Panicco was ready for the recruitment letters and scouts that started calling for him his junior year in high school.

“I always loved playing soccer and I just played it for fun growing up and I always had those aspirations to go pro, it didn’t really become a reality to make those dreams come true until my junior year of high school when I started getting recruited by colleges and Charlotte is a big school to be recruited by so i was really excited about that. I’m really happy to be here and to be playing on this level to help not only our team progress but also myself so I can it to make the next level,” Panicco said.

Panicco has always had a passion and a love for soccer. The day-to-day work and effort that it takes to make it to the college level is something that Elliot has enjoyed. When you love the game the bitter work is fun and the long hours are a joy.

“The work load is a lot but I don’t think it’s a lot cause I enjoy coming out here everyday and being around the guys,” said Panicco. “It’s a lot of fun to be here and I don’t think of it as work. I just think of it as another day to be able to hang out with guys that I’m working towards a goal with so I really enjoy it.”

Panicco’s love for the game pushes him to continue to try to be the best. His aspirations of playing at the next level cannot easily be detoured. His personal motivation to be great keeps him pushing day in and day out.

He also draws strength from his team. Panicco takes a lot of pride in the drive that his fellow players possess.  Every guy pushes each other to be better day in, and day out.

“The whole team keeps me pushing, I think everybody wants to push each other and doesn’t settle for mediocrity,” Pannicco said. “I think we all do a good job of making sure that if we do something good we praise them for it and we tell them to keep going and if you slip up them pat on the back and we just keep going.”

Groomed for greatness

Virginia Lingo protects the ball. Photo by Chris Crews

There are three key components that make up a star college athlete. Motivation, mental toughness and work ethic. There are hundreds of thousands of amazing athletes around the country, yet only a small percentage get to go the distance and play in college. Why? Because it takes a certain passion to be able to push your body to its limit day in and day out. For Charlotte women’s soccer star Virginia Lingo this sort of work ethic and drive has been with her for a while.

“I started playing when I was three years old, I played cause I got ice cream after every game in the YMCA,” said Lingo.

Things change, people change and feelings change too. I’m sure Lingo still loves ice cream but as far as her drive to be a great athlete, the soft serve does not do it for her. Lingo began taking her soccer career more seriously when she got to high school. As recruitment letters began coming in she realized that she would have to buckle down to make an impact on the next level. It’s easier to do things that you love.

“Definitely in high school probably freshmen year when I realized that I wanted to play in college plus the recruiting Made it more serious and helped me lock-in to that,” Lingo said.

The mental toughness to balance a work load like that is not something for the weak at heart. College athletes have multiple practices a day, the homework that everyone deals with and of course a social life that we all desire to have. In high school sports are recreation and everyone gets a turn. It is barely a commitment and more of an extracurricular for fun with friends, but in college you work to earn a spot and could easily lose it if you aren’t performing.

“Soccer is a lot more like a job in college, I get yelled at lot more,” Lingo said. “But I do love soccer so I carve out time for school and extra practice. I’m taking 18 hours right now so it can be a lot, but it’s not too bad.”

Luckily for Lingo, her younger years as an honor-roll student taught her time management and gave her an edge in learning to balance the college work load. Lingo prides herself in being able to create time to get work done. She also played for her high school and a club soccer teams, so going to multiple practices in a day was not new to her.

“Having high school and club practices definitely helped get me ready for the next level, being used to carving out extra time and knowing when to practice late at night or study in the mornings or vice versa and just being able to be flexible,” Lingo said.

There is an timeless lesson to be learned from the efforts of Lingo. Hard work and consistency will always pay off and it beats natural talent every time. Nearly twenty years of soccer experience has put Lingo in a position to go play soccer after graduation. She has been recruited by the Charlotte Lady Eagles, a mission organization that plays in an elite league against teams across the country. Lingo is also driven by her faith. She has a deep reverence for God and to have an opportunity to play after college for a team that combines her passion for soccer with her passion to serve the Lord is a dream come true.

“They used to be semi-pro now they’re a ministry team, so it’ll be fun. A lot of different college players play during the summer and go on big trips, it’s really cool it’s for around two months. I thought about playing in Australia for a time but I don’t know if I’m going to do that or not,” Lingo said.

Lingo recorded her first goal of the season earlier this month against VCU and we can only expect more goals and greatness from the graduating senior.

“It’s gonna be a good season we started off playing some really good teams so I think that prepared us more for the back end of the season,” Lingo said.  “I think it’s gonna be good I think that we can place high again and win the conference tournament again.”



Charlotte sails past the Pirates

The team celebrates after Megan Greene’s goal. Photo by Katelynn Pennington

Charlotte 49ers capped off non-conference play with a win over long time in-state rivals East Carolina University Sunday at Transamerica Stadium. Megan Greene and Martha Thomas fueled the rally with back-to-back goals in the second half to win 2-1 over the Pirates.

Thomas tied the game at one a piece off of Brianna Morris assist. Morris crossed the ball after Virginia Lingo found her on the right side of the field. Thomas was able to head the ball into the bottom right corner of the goal to tie the game at one a piece.

The goal also tied the Niner record for career goals. Thomas scored her 39th goal and also her 102nd point which puts her in 3rd for career points behind Hailey Beam(2006-2009) with 103 and Courtney Cook (1994-97) with 104.

After a big goal from Thomas, the Niners continued to push forward as Greene gave the Niners the lead just four minutes later. Greene got the ball in the air over the defense and headed it inside the left post of the goal.

The first goal of the game came after Abby Taylor attempted to reset the offense with a pass to the goalkeeper, Alivia McKelvy. The pass was intercepted by Cashlin Copley who found herself one on one with the Niner goalkeeper and put the ball between her legs and into the back of the goal.

McKelvy earned her first start of the season and recorded six saves, a career best.

The Niners begin Conference play Friday at 7 p.m. against Marshall at Transamerica Stadium.

Niners win within ten

Callum Montgomery and Daniel Bruce celebrate after the goal. Photo by Chris Crews

Charlotte 49ers opened their conference season play Saturday with a 1-0 win against Marshall at Transamerica stadium. Teddy Chaouche crossed the ball to Callum Montgomery who headed over the Marshall defense. After bicycle kick from the Charlotte forward didn’t fall, Daniel Bruce was there for the put back giving him his first goal of the season.

The Niners played a very physical game all 90 minutes with strong defensive performances from goal keeper Elliot Panicco and defenders Montgomery, Sean Bowman, Luke Johnson, Zhuvonte Wilson and Noah Seach, the team recorded their second shutout of the season.

“To our core we’re fit, were strong, were tough and we don’t let anything whether it be a spring friendly game or conference finals,” said Bruce. “We’re coming out in this field and their 100% getting a game and they’re getting run all over.”

The Niners kept the Marshall offense at bay limiting them to just one shot in the first half from Pedro Dolabelo. Charlotte had many prime opportunities to score including a missed header from Luke Johnson off a corner kick from Teddy Chaouche and two different shot attempts on the goal from Montgomery and Myles Brown. The Niners took nine shots and had six corners in the first half but were not able to convert them to goals.

“We controlled the game tonight we’d stayed the course stayed in the moment” said Charlotte head Coach Kevin Langan. “We didn’t get too far ahead thinking when we’re gonna score nor thinking about missed chances in the past, we just stayed the course and won a great game.”

Niners out shot Marshall 13-2 and put up 7 corners to Marshalls 3. Bruce and Ryan Spaulding both contributed three shots. Myles Brown and Tommy Madden also added two shots each.

The Niners continue their three game homestretch this Tuesday against Elon at 7 p.m. at Transamerica Stadium.