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Charlotte falls to Charleston

The Charlotte 49ers (2-4) took on the College of Charleston Cougars (7-2) this Saturday night in an eight point loss in TD arena. The 49ers were led by senior point guard, Jon Davis, who finished the night with 21 points and chipped in 39 minutes. Other leaders for the 49ers included freshman wing, Malik Martin, who notched 14 points, six boards and five assists. Dravon Mangum also stepped up for the 49ers, putting up 12 points, eight boards and one assist in 34 minutes.

Davis and Martin were the two showmen for the Charlotte 49ers in the first half of play. The 49ers matched the Cougars’ high intensity play early on in the match, going blow for blow with the team as if fighting for a heavy weight championship. The 49ers would gain their footing on solid ground after a triple from Davis, dashing the Charleston lead. Another trey ball from Davis allowed the 49ers to gain a bit of momentum. This energy was boosted by a pair of strong finishes at the rim from Martin and Brandon Younger. At 27-25, the Charleston Cougars responded with an onslaught of their own, led by the 49ers, who were able to lessen the lead from another trey ball from Jon Davis. The 49ers closed the half trailing by one.

Walking into the sequel, the 49ers recognized their opportunity and stepped up to the plate, meeting the Charleston Cougars blow for blow once again. Tying the game early on, the Charlotte front court would put on a show that put the Forty Niners up 44-40. After another three from Davis, Charleston, led by Grant Riller, would come up with a scoring run of their own. Going from a slight lead to a ten point game, the Cougars would work to gas the 49ers in the open court and capitalize on their front court’s paint presence. Milos Supica would give the Forty Niners two second chance points in the paint, along with senior forward Jailan Haslem. As the half began to close, the duo of Mangum and Martin collaborated to shorten the lead to a four point deficit, but in the end it would not be enough. The Charleston Cougars came out on top 72-64.

The 49ers will take on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons this Thursday, Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. and will see the return of former 49er, Andrien White.

49ers fry up the Flames

What are you most thankful for this Holiday season? Without a doubt, Charlotte basketball.

The Charlotte 49ers went to all-out war this past Saturday, Nov. 24, as they traveled to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to participate in the Christmas City Classic. Just like Adonis Creed, who was in for the fight of his life in the recently released “Creed 2”, Charlotte would have to go back to back in a four round brawl against the Liberty Flames.

The game would see the 49ers come out on top with a two-point lead, winning 63-61. The 49ers were led by sophomore wing, Octavia Jett-Wilson, who put up 18 points along with four dimes and four boards. Wilson, who had been quiet to start her season out, stepped up to the challenge against this experienced Liberty team, and set the pace early on in what would prove to be the hardest fight the 49ers faced so far this year.

Senior point guard Laia Raventós finished the fight with 15 points Saturday night, shooting a solid 60 percent from three-point land, along with four assists. She also notched four steals on the other side of play, creating some key turnovers for the 49ers in both early and late game situations. Sophomore point guard Mariah Linney also made her presence known Saturday night with 13 points off of 30 minutes of play.

“Well we’re a lot better team when Tae [Octavia] plays like this,” said Head Coach Cara Consuegra. “It’s been a tough week in practice. We pushed her hard and really challenged her to be the player that we need her to be. Not just offensively, but defensively, she was a lot better today. So I’m just really proud of her for being able to take that hard coaching, and get better, and know that’s it’s because we believe in her.”

Ready for war

The Forty-Niners entered the first quarter with energy, being led by Jett-Wilson, who led the offensive charge against the Flames. Attacking at the high shoulder with a number of mid-range jumpers, Jett-Wilson gave the 49ers a step up early on, before the Flames would turn up the heat with a scoring run of their own putting them up five early in the first quarter.

Liberty’s Bridgette Rettstatt would match Jett-Wilson’s intensity, looking for every opportunity to penetrate the paint, and finding them. Charlotte’s ability to stop the ball, along with Raventós’ collecting two big steals from the Flames, allowed the 49ers to put an end any momentum Liberty had gained over the last three minutes.

A single three from Liberty’s Bridgette Rettstat extended the lead once again. With the Flames putting up a few more buckets to extend the lead even further, it would seem the 49ers would close the quarter trailing terribly, but a few hustle plays from the ladies, plus a late quarter three from Linney, would put the Niners just within three. The Flames would close the quarter up 15-12.

The Battle

The second half would pick up right where the first left off, with Charlotte gaining the lead off of a number of foul shots. Senior Raventós would wake up this quarter, gaining a little bit of swagger from behind the arc, pulling the trigger without hesitation, and giving the 49ers the lead around 23-22. A couple more blows were traded and the first half came closer and closer towards its end. Jett-Wilson would make a clutch jumper in an attempt to keep the 49ers above water but the Flames would make a couple of big-time buckets from Rettstat and Emily Lytle to close out the half 30-28.

Trading blows

The beginning of the second half would continue in the nature of the first two, with blows being traded back and forth by both teams. In reality, it would be a fight of momentum, and whose would be able to last. The Flames would make a bucket that would liven the entirety of the squad up, but a defensive effort stopping the ball in transition would kill the wave immediately, and vice-versa.

A trey ball from Liberty forward KK Barber, would stretch the margin back to five, but Jett-Wilson, with a pair of two balls and a defensive stop, would put the 49ers up 39-38. A few buckets from Charlotte’s bench would help solidify the lead, along with a layup from Linney. The Flames responded with a huge three-ball from Lytle that would end up connecting. The quarter would close tied at 42-42.

The come up

The fourth and final quarter of Saturday night’s game would be up for grabs. The 49ers would not take to kindly to how the last quarter ended, responding with two trey balls of their own from their two point guards Linney and Raventos. The Forty-Niners would again get into an all-out brawl with a big-time layup off of the Flames bench, to help close the gap created by those two triples.

Lytle, again, would respond with another monster three to tie the game at 51-51. Another three from Lytle would set the Flames up by one point, with a little over a minute left on the clock. Jett-Wilson, who undeniably set the pace offensively, would put up a floater in the closing seconds to give the 49ers their last and final lead of the night. A couple of free throws from the 49ers would extend the lead in the closing seconds of the half, and the 49ers would survive to fight another day in Christmas City Classic.

“Liberty is a great team. They’ve been where we want to go,” said Consuegra.  “They’ve been in the postseason, they’ve won championships and they have that experience that we don’t. Coming into this game, knowing it was going to be close, knowing it was going to be a battle, for us to make the right plays down the stretch to win the game, I’m just incredibly proud.”

The 49ers take on the Lehigh Mountain Hawks this Sunday, Nov. 25 to continue their journey to the Christmas City Classic tourney Championship.

Charlotte contains the Volunteers

The Charlotte 49ers (4-5, 3-2 C-USA) took on the Tennessee University Vols (4-5, 1-3) this past Saturday, Nov. 4 in a 3-14 loss. The Niners hopped on the road and traveled to Knoxville, Tennessee to compete at Neyland Stadium in 58 degree weather. With sunny skies, and over 70,000 fans in attendance, the 49ers would know what to expect walking into this highly anticipated match up for Niner Nation. The leaders for the 49ers Saturday night were star running back, Benny Lemay with 81 rushing yards, QB Evan Shirreffs with 152 passing yards and junior defensive back Ben Deluca with nine tackles.

From the first minute of the first quarter, the Forty-Niners defensive line showed that they would be the deciding factor for this game. The first two quarters allowed Charlotte’s linemen to set the pace for the rest of the game. Able to recognize routes and close off any and every hole in the defense, the 49ers ends and linebackers were able to stifle the Volunteers, holding them to only 20 rushing yards, completely choking the Volunteer’s running game.

The Vols would return an 82-yard punt midway through the first quarter, putting the Vols up seven. Tennesse would see a second touchdown with a short 16-yard reception from Jarrett Guaranto, putting the Vols up even further, 17-0. In response, the 49er defense would buckle down on their opponent’s passing game. Charlotte’s corners and safeties, led by Deluca, played huge coverage on Tennessee’s receivers, and applied pressure that allowed the 49ers to hold them to 192 yards for the entirety of the game. The second quarter of the game would prove to be very similar schematically. The Vols offense, specifically their backs, would continue to struggle heavily against the 49er Linebackers and ends. Defensive end Alex Highsmith, would be a prime example of this through his play on the field.

“We came out, just with an attack mindset. I wanted to come out, just with my helmet on the whole game, and coach put in a great game plan. So, I think we did a good job of executing, but ultimately we didn’t come out with a win, so hats off to Tennessee, they’re a great team,” said Highsmith. “It was fun, playing around this environment, playing around all these people, but you know, we couldn’t let the fans get to us, and we had to lock in.”

Entering into the second half of play, the 49er offense wouldn’t make too much more noise. Creating some strong drives midway through the third and late in the fourth, none of them would be converted into points on the board. The line, would continue to hold the Volunteers effectively for the rest of the night, allowing them no more than 192 yards to finish with.

“You come on the road in a tough environment and play against a good team and do some good things but we don’t play the game to come close,” said head coach Brad Lambert. “I told the guys in the locker room [we] play to come in here and win. There were some situations in there that we could have had an opportunity to win the game and that’s what you want to do.”

The Charlotte 49ers will be traveling to Huntington, Va. this Saturday, Nov. 10 to take on the Marshall Thundering Herd.

49ers continue to forge ahead

The past

The Charlotte 49ers will enter into the 2018-19 season on Nov. 6 as a new regime is setting the stage in Niner Nation. With a brand new head coach and a brand new coaching staff put in place, the Charlotte men’s basketball team will have the opportunity to help redefine what exactly it means to be a “49er.”

Coming off of a 6-23 season with only two conference wins to call their own, the men of Niner Nation have something to prove, not only to the rest of Conference-USA, but to the rest of the college basketball world. After a rocky 3-6 start to the 2017-18 season, the firing of Head Coach Mark Price threw much of Niner Nation into a state of surprise and confusion. Interim Head Coach Houston Fancher, who had been with the 49ers basketball program for three seasons, stepped up and took the reins of the program, but would only be able to pump out three more wins over the remainder of the season. With the retiring of the 43-year athletic director, Judy Rose, and the introduction of the new director, Mike Hill, it was suspected, but never said out loud, that the change in leadership would have dramatic ramifications for the coaching staff.

Speculation turned into reality in the spring when Mike Hill announced his first major decision as athletic director, the hiring of former UVA assistant basketball coach, Ron Sanchez. Sanchez, now at the helm of the program, has the chance to make his word law and bring a winning culture back to the stands of Dale F. Halton Arena.

The announcement of A.D Hill and new Head Coach Sanchez were not the only major changes to occur in the 49ers offseason. Junior wingman Andrien White, who averaged 15 points, 4 rebounds and averaged 27 minutes per game this past season, announced his commitment to the Wake Forest “Demon Deacons.” White, who along with Jon Davis was a staple in the 49ers backcourt, announced his decision via Instagram this past summer.

White averaged 12 points, 4 rebounds and shot 37 percent from the field for the entirety of his career at Niner nation and tallied eleven 20 point games and 17 games that finished in the double digits. His freshman year, White was named Conference USA player of the week twice and finished fourth in Conference USA in steals. The athletic wing, along with senior point guard, Jon Davis, proved to be one of the strongest one-two punches in C-USA basketball. His departure will leave a hole that will prove to be an endeavor to fill.

Charlotte’s backcourt took another hit this offseason apart from the departure of White. Ryan Murphy, a 6-foot-2-inch redshirt freshman from Calabasas, California, decided to re-open his recruitment. Murphy offered strong minutes off the bench for the 49ers early on in the season, putting up double-digit numbers to offer some reprieve to scoring-minded players like White, Austin Ajukwa and forward Najee Garvin.

It would be during a game against ODU that Murphy would finally find his comfort zone, exploding against the Blue Raiders for 27 points, knocking down six threes while going 100 percent from the line. Over the next five games, Murphy would seem to have found his niche. Four of the games would end with Murphy in double digits, but unfortunately, an injury would cut the redshirt freshman’s season short. On May 8, Murphy announced on Twitter that he intended to re-open his recruitment and had planned to play his sophomore season apart from the 49ers.

On Sept. 29, Murphy announced on Instagram that he had committed to the Washington State Cougars. Ryan averaged six points, four rebounds, and shot 40 percent from the three-point line in his one year playing for the 49ers.

Garvin, a 6-foot-7-inch forward from Lexington, South Carolina will also not be suiting up this year. He averaged six points and four rebounds in the two years he played for the 49ers. Both Garvin and Bryant Thomas were dismissed from the team this year for not having met team expectations.

The present

Returning for the 49ers this season is star senior point guard, Davis. Walking into his fourth and final season averaging 17 points per game, five assists and three rebounds, Davis is already riding a wave of momentum. Davis was recently named to the Preseason All-Conference C-USA team, which was voted on by 14 different league coaches. In his three seasons as a 49er he has accumulated a plethora of accolades and titles ranging from being the 27th player in school history to hit 1000 points to having the second highest scoring game ever (37 points) played in Halton Arena. Jon has accumulated multiple conference USA honors and titles and made even more “big time” plays in Halton while also playing at a level of consistency and intensity that has set the bar for this teammates. Davis finished sixth in scoring in the 2017-18 season while also averaging 20 points in C-USA play alone, putting him at No. 3 on the list of C-USA scoring averages for the 2017-18 season. When asked, in view of all his accolades, what is a goal of his that he wants to accomplished, this is what he had to say:

“First of all, my goal is to win games. Because everything listed is individual statistics, and to be honest those don’t mean anything,” said Davis. “Especially without the wins that come behind it. So I really want to dedicate this year to getting wins under my belt.”

This past offseason, Davis entered his name into the NBA draft, but decided to return for his fourth and final year as a Charlotte 49er.

Also returning for the 49ers this coming season is 6-foot-10 inch senior center Jailan Haslem. Haslem, who transferred in from Gordon State College at the beginning of last season, has averaged four points, four rebounds and played 505 minutes in his first season. Putting up only two double figure games for the entire season along with four games with double digit boards, Haslem, off of sheer size alone, is a presence in the paint that cannot be ignored.

Sophomore forward Milos Supica is another piece for the 49ers who will make his second-year debut Nov. 6. A face-up four with the ability to get to the rim, Supica offered strong minutes off the bench this past season. Averaging six points and four rebounds along with eleven blocks for the season, the forward offered a versatile scoring option for the 49ers frontcourt apart from Garvin. Supica touched the court in 28 games last season, collecting seven starts along with six games finishing in the double digits.

6-foot-8-inch stretch wing, Luka Vasic, is yet another returning weapon for Coach Sanchez to have in his arsenal. Shooting 40 percent from behind the arc this past season, the sophomore will add depth to the 49er backcourt and will offer another ball handler on the scene to assist Davis.

The future

Despite the departure and return of many old faces for the 49ers, there are a few new kids on the block in Niner Nation. Junior transfer Jordan Shepherd is a 6-foot-4-inch guard transferring out of Oklahoma University. At OU, Shepherd saw the floor 59 times, while collecting only four starts in his two-year career. Averaging four points his freshman year, and 3.2 his sophomore year, Shepherd will be another option for the 49ers extensive backcourt.

True freshman Tyler Bertram is a 6-foot-3-inch shooting guard out of Cooperstown, NY. Bertram spent his senior year play at Vermont Academy, where the young man averaged 20 points per game and was named MVP for the “Hoophall classic” where he dropped 31 against IMG Academy. At Cooperstown High, Bertram racked up a school record of 1,867 points while also setting a school record in threes with 264. Averaging 30 points per game with Cooperstown, the shooting guard led the school to multiple Section 3 titles and received First Team All-state honors. Bertram is also a well-versed tennis player.

Freshman big man, Dravon Mangum, is another huge piece for the 49ers. Standing at 6-foot-9-inch, Mangum will offer length and rim protection for a 49er team, which is extremely guard-heavy. Mangum, averaging 17 points, eight rebounds and two assists at Person High school, earned All-PAC-6 Conference honors multiple times and was named First Team All-District. The forward’s wing span alone will offer versatility to the 49ers shift to a defensive mindset.

“We’re trying to establish something new, a new identity for our team,” said Sanchez. “A defensive mindset that I believe the students will appreciate, and if we can get the students behind us, get them to be loud, and kind of build the Halton Arena of old…I think we could be a really exciting team to come and watch.”

The Charlotte 49ers, without doubt, will see a period of adjustment as they learn to work together as a unit under this new coaching staff. With accountability, integrity, consistency and everything else that embodies the ideals of a “Noble Niner,” Sanchez will be able to successfully reshape this program in his image and lead these young men to an appearance in the postseason that could set the standards for years to come.

The 49ers will open their season Tuesday, Nov. 6 against Chattanooga in Dale F. Halton Arena at 7 p.m.

49ers host their 17th Dig Pink event

The Charlotte 49ers hosted their 17th annual “Dig Pink” event this past Friday night, Oct. 26 against the FIU Panthers. The fundraiser consists of many different things including a “pink out” of Dale F Halton Arena, a Chick-fil-A awareness day at the local fast food joint and a highly anticipated game. The 49ers, who have been putting on the annual “Dig Pink” event for almost two decades, have always approached this event with the same passion and enthusiasm that a high profile match against a conference rival would require.

“Obviously October is a big month of breast cancer awareness and every year my team works in conjunction with the ‘Side-out foundation’ and some local organizations to raise funds to support the growing awareness of breast cancer,” said Head Coach Karen Weatherington.

As mentioned earlier, the 49ers were at the local Chick-fil-A at University Place fundraising with money buckets in hand and pink shirts worn proudly to help spread awareness about the upcoming night. Asking for donations towards research for the disease that has touched so many, the athletes were intent on spreading information about the affliction, how it had affected so many, and how crucial financial support could be in making the difference. The ladies also spoke of their upcoming game with FIU on Oct. 26 and shared that a free “Dig Pink” tee shirt would be waiting for donators at the game. A big reason that Dig Pink is so effective and embraced by the community is in part because of the lives the sickness has touched. Even among the 49ers, the event holds a special place in the heart of the athletes.

“This really holds a soft spot for me,” said senior outside hitter Reeana Richardson. “My aunt Carlene had breast cancer. She’s a survivor. I think this is going to be her fifth year. It’s just really supporting and really helpful that we’re out here today and my teammates are out here really trying to get people to donate and informing people about the cause and what we’re doing. So it’s heartwarming.”

This time of year is also special for Head Coach Weatherington, who breast cancer become a reality for many years ago.

“My mom really went through a very impactful time and it really has kind of rippled through our family. We have that breast cancer gene; a lot of us have been diagnosed with having that gene in the family. So it means a lot when people come out and give a little or a lot or just their support,” said Weatherington. “So many women are struck with breast cancer every year and everyone has a story. Everyone on this team knows someone.”

The 49ers are still currently taking donations for the cause and will continue to up until Oct. 31.

Grainda wins C-USA offensive player of the week

Junior forward Julia Grainda was named C-USA Offensive player of the week earlier this month for the week of Monday, Oct. 1. Grainda and junior fullback, Riley Orr, are the only two 49er players to win accolades of this nature so far, this year. Being the first 49er to win this accolade since the 2017 season. Charlotte has never won two honors of this nature back to back.

Grainda, who has started in all 17 games this season, has been a powerhouse at the forward position for the past two years. Shooting 54 percent on goal last season, and 41 percent for the current season, Grainda is the go-to player for the 49ers offense when aggression is key.

With five goals for the season, Grainda has proven to be the reason for much of the 49ers’ success early on in the season. The forward was the deciding factor in many games such as the 49ers Sept. win vs.Marshall, another match against Western Kentucky were she tallied five overall shots on goal and in a win against ODU where she let loose two shots on goal, with one connecting.

A native from Cornelius, NC and a graduate of Community School of Davidson, Grainda boasted awards and honors including 2016 NCHSAA state championship MVP, all-state plaudits from the NCSCA and was a member of the All-Charlotte Observer First Team. Putting up 31 goals, and nine dimes in her college career, Grainda was made for this since day one. In her sophomore season, the young forward was honored with being named to the All-NCCSIA Second team, while also etching out a future role for herself in the 49ers post season run.

49ers sweep the Panthers at Dig Pink

The Charlotte 49ers (14-12, C-USA 4-6) took on the FIU (0-17-1, C-USA 0-9-1) Panthers this Friday night for the annual “Dig Pink” event in hopes to bring about breast cancer awareness. The match ended in a sweep that was completed in three sets. The 49ers, who are coached by Karen Weatherington, were led by outside hitters, Reeana Richardson with 14 kills and Molly Shaw with 12 kills and two blocks. Charlotte hit 36 percent as a unit. They hit 47 percent and 45 percent respectively in the last two sets.

The Charlotte 49ers got off to a slow start against the Panthers, not moving with the same intensity that they’ve shown in the past. The ladies went down early on in the set to the Panthers. The 49ers, after a kill from Shaw, would wake up from their slumber and begin an onslaught that would lead them to a 10-10 tie against the Panthers.

The Panthers would not take this lying down though, responding with a kill and ace of their own. Richardson along with Jocelyn Stoner would continue to apply pressure on the net, but it would be a kill from Shaw that would break the second and final tie of the game. The rest of the set would show the 49ers pulling away from FIU, and sealing the deal with a block from Jannelle Curtiss.

Charlotte wasted no time at all in the second set, putting the Panthers down 9-3 early on. A combination of Richardson, Galloway and Shaw allowed the 49ers to keep their foot on the gas, keeping the Panthers from ever finding a groove. Richardson would continue to apply the same aggressiveness as she had in the first set, and would collect her 10th kill towards the end of the match. A kill from Tyra Galloway would close out the set in Charlotte’s favor, 25-17.

The third set would look much like the second, with the 49ers rolling out of the gate with high energy and aggression. A pair of aces from the 49ers and a block from Shaw would prove to be critical in the first few minutes of the set, putting the Panthers down by four early on. Midway through the match, the 49ers would find themselves going on a 10-0 run, putting the Panthers in an unhealthy position to be able to react. Jocelyn Stoner and Curtiss would both combine for two strong blocks, putting an end, once again, to any hope of an FIU panther come back. Now down 21-9, the 49ers finished the team off with aces from Shaw, and a block from the 49ers claiming the third set.

The 49ers will take on the LA Tech this Sunday, Oct. 28 at 1 p.m. at Dale F. Halton Arena.

Charlotte Thriller ends in loss

The Charlotte 49ers (13-11, 3-5 C-USA) took on the UTSA Roadrunners (14-5,6-1 C-USA) in an all-out brawl that would go five sets. The night was defined by twists and turns that can only be found in the depths of the most high-end action movies.

The 49ers were led through the night by senior outside hitter Jannelle Curtiss and Reeana Richardson who finished the night with a whopping 19 kills all to herself. The Roadrunners were led by Head Coach Laura Neugebauer-Goff and assistants Paul Koncir and Dominique Gonzalez. UTSA players were led by Hannah Lopez with 17 kills.

The 49ers came into the first set with extensive energy, a stark contrast to what seemed to be a lackluster entrance by the Roadrunners. Charlotte’s Yumi Garcia would be the first one to draw blood for the night with an ace early in the set followed by another one from freshman Tyra Galloway.

UTSA’s Montse Castro and Kirby Smith both respond with kills of their own, igniting a fire under the Roadrunners for the rest of the half. The Roadrunners continued to ride their wave after another ace and kill that put the score up 11-8 Charlotte. Within the next few minutes, the Roadrunners had tied the game at 13. The rest of the set would set the tone for the rest of the game.

With heavy blows coming from both sides, including Charlotte’s Jocelyn Stoner, Richardson and UTSA’s Kara Teel. The Road Runners would go up 22-18 towards the end where Charlotte’s inside hitters would make a last-ditch effort to shut down the 49ers, but a faulty block would give the set to the Road Runners. The 49ers fell 25-19.

The second set would begin much like the first. With high intensity from the 49ers spurned by their first loss, Charlotte would gain momentum quickly, going up 4-0 early on in the set. It would be Castro who would get UTSA’s first points of the night on the board. The 49ers continued to extend their lead, increasing the range to 12-5 and then 17-7.

Charlotte continued to dominate the set until a faulty block allows the Roadrunners to score. Just like the last set, a wave of energy is given to UTSA which they ride through the rest of the set. UTSA continues to advance and build until a tough sequence of volleys and back and forths, allowing the 49ers to score off of an ace. Charlotte mounts a strong come back, working their way to the set point of the match. It is here that the Roadrunners attempt a last stand, fighting their way to a 24-17 score until the 49ers are finally able to close the set.

The third set would be up for grabs until the last few points. Eight times the teams would be tied, showing just how eager and just how hungry both teams were for the advantage. Curtiss and Stone would be the front-runners once again for the 49ers. The pair, along with Richardson, would lead the 49ers to a 24-24 set point and would close out behind Richardson at a 26-24 score.

Set number four would not go the 49ers’ way after the first point. The Roadrunners would play as if they had been slighted the last set. Teel and her team would show a ferocious display of upfront assault on the net. The 49ers would try to keep up, but Lopez and Teel would return and send back all the aggression of Curtiss, Richardson and Galloway, putting the Roadrunners in position for a fifth set.

The fifth and final set wasn’t a long one but would embody the volatile nature of all the sets before it. The 49ers again would come out swinging, putting three points on the board early with the Roadrunners responding by taking the score to 9-7. The 49ers would put their foot on the gas one last time, but a pair of kills by Teel would show the Roadrunners to be the victors of the night. The 49ers would fall in five sets to UTSA.

The 49ers will take on the FAU Owls this Sunday, Oct. 21 at 12 p.m.

Charlotte 49ers stumble against Blue Raiders

The Charlotte 49ers (8-5, 4-2 C-USA) took on the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (8-3-1, 3-1-1 C-USA) this Sunday, Oct. 7th, in a tough loss in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The Charlotte 49ers were led by junior forward Julia Grainda, who was also named C-USA Offensive Player of the Week, with three shots on goal and one shot, which would lead to the 49ers’ one and only point of the game.

Grainda and the Charlotte 49er offense would walk into the first half matching the energy of the Blue Raiders. The first part of the half would be a lot of back and forth between the two teams, with Charlotte’s midfielders and backs remaining active against the harassment of the Blue Raiders. Around the 24th minute mark, Grainda, after a succession of beautiful footwork including a vicious “stutter-step”, would penetrate through the Blue Raider fullbacks and create a strong shot on goal which would lead to the 49ers first and only score of the night.

The Blue raiders would respond quickly though, with Middle Tennessee’s Amber Hoot capitalizing on a 49er penalty, and shooting a 30-yard free kick to put them on the board. The rest of the half would prove to be unproductive for both teams, as each team’s respective keepers, specifically Abby Stapleton, would have the goalie box on lockdown.

The 49ers would come into the second half aiming to make right what Hoot made wrong. They would attempt to use a corner kick by junior forward Megan Greene, to take the lead once again. The shot, which looked to be good, was taken care of by the Middle Tennessee defense. Hoot would again be the catalyst for another Blue Raider goal, assisting the play by having her free kick knocked to her teammate, Sydney Navarro, who then scored, putting the 49ers down one.

The rest of the half would be defined by strong attacks from the 49ers that would not be able to pan out. At the end of the day, the Blue Raiders would come out over Charlotte 2-1 in a game where the rainy weather proved to do no favors.

“Both sides created chances, but this weekend, we were not quite as productive as we have been in recent games in front of the goal. We need to spend more time in training on that aspect, too. Congratulations to Middle Tennessee,” said women’s head coach, John Cullen.

The 49ers will take on UAB this Thursday, Oct. 11 for Senior Night, 7 p.m. at Transamerica Stadium.

Amelia Clower goes beyond midfield

Clower gets ready for a throw in. Photo by Chris Crews

Senior defender Amelia Clower has entered her fourth and final year here at Niner Nation and she has had the opportunity to make an impact not just on, but off the field as well. Originally from Charleston, South Carolina, Amelia began playing soccer at the age of three. When asked where exactly the passion for the game came from, this is what she had to say.

“For a while I played on a boys team until I was like thirteen, so that was like where I really started to like soccer. And that’s where I chose soccer over all the other sports I was doing. I decided that was the one I really liked the most, and so I stuck with it,” Clower said. “And I just came around and wasn’t really ready to let it go yet and I chose to take it to the next level.”

Amelia stepped onto the pitch in 2015, seeing playing time in eight games her freshman year, and seeing playing time three Conference USA home games against UAB, FIU and Western Kentucky.

“I didn’t really have any expectations going into it. I just knew it was going to be tough, but I didn’t know it was going to be this tough,” said Clower.  “I give credit to all athletes, no matter of the division. You have to show so much mental toughness and so much emotional toughness. It’s so much aside from just the sport. You have to balance so many things.”

Being a veteran player for the 49ers this season, Amelia’s energy and actions have set the pace in a number of ways.

“I feel like when I was a freshman, it was a lot of looking up to the people that were older than me, more than they probably realized, and I kind of keep remembering that in how I just react to things. Being that person off the field that can just be talked to,” said Clower. “The first three years, I was never a starter and I had to constantly work for playing time. I feel like as someone who wasn’t a starter from freshman year, the majority of the team has someone to look up to in me, and know that I pushed through it and so can they.”

Coming off a hard loss in the postseason, the Forty-Niners took the offseason to regroup. From a veteran’s perspective, getting that far in the season and performing so well can be a different experience for upperclassmen than it can for those newer players.

“Well I feel like a lot of the freshman and sophomores, specifically the sophomores, don’t realize how exciting it can be until you actually are in the playoffs and make it through that week. I feel like once they get a little taste of that, especially being in conference, it is hard to explain how important it is to the juniors and seniors,” Clower said.

The senior defender grew up in a household where relief and mission trips to Honduras, and many other countries where the norm. This past summer, she took a trip with a non-profit org called, “Filter of Hope.”

“My view of things, my perception has kind of changed with things. I don’t know, my perspective of life I guess,” she laughed. “My view of it from the past trip has changed because I was way more involved than I had ever been in the past. You never know what kind of person you’re dealing with or what they have been going through.”

Clower would spend her summer going home to home, up and down a mountain distributing water filters to help create safe drinking water for the locals.

Clower and the 49ers can be seen on Transamerica Field this Friday, Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. to take on Western Kentucky.

The 49ers fall to the Hilltoppers

Alex Boone and Sydney Rowan attempt to block the ball. Photo by Pooja Pasupula

The Charlotte 49ers (10-7, 1-1 C-USA) took on the WKU Hilltoppers (11-5, 2-0 C-USA), the current C-USA champions, this Sunday, Sept. 23rd in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Charlotte took the “Big Red” to five hard fought sets, but would end up falling in the fifth 10-15, putting Charlotte down 2-3 overall.

The 49ers were led by Reeana Richardson with 15 kills and two blocks along with Jr. Jocelyn Stoner, who also listed 15 kills. The game overall would turn to be a fight for survival, with Western Kentucky and Charlotte matching each other almost blow for blow. Stat wise, the teams would finish similarly with Charlotte’s 61 kills, four aces, and 54 assists as compared to the Hill toppers 63 kills, four aces, and 59 assists.

The first set of the night would prove to set the tone for the entirety of the game. The Niners would end up being tied with the Hill toppers twice. The Forty-Niners would fight their way through, coming close to a lead twice after two kills from Richardson, but a kill from WKU’s Rachel Anderson would put an end to all of that.

The second set would prove to be much the same with the lead going back and forth between the two squads. Stoner would prove to be the go-to girl once again, along with Sydney Rowan, as the two teammates would end up putting up back to back blocks to break a 13-13 tie.

The last part of the set would be dominated by a combination of Rowan, Stoner and Richardson as they kept up high pressure on the net and put down aggressive kills with an ace from Jr. Sofie Perrens.

The third set would prove to be a blowout for the 49ers, with the WKU Hill toppers coming out with a ferocity that hadn’t been showed yet. Molly Shaw and Stoner would show face, but the Hilltoppers would have momentum on their side.

“The third set time was a tough one, but we rebounded and got back in systematic rhythm, the lopsided scoring is happening in our sport across the nation, so we knew not to let it get to us and moved on seizing opportunities to win the fourth.”

The Forty-Niners would respond strongly in the fourth, taking it to a 22-22 tie game. Opposing kills from Stoner and Anderson would edge the score higher and higher until Rowan stepped up and capitalized on a monster kill, allowing the 49ers to snatch the set, and force a final.

The final set would follow the trend of the game with the lead jumping back and forth between the opposing powerhouses. Jannelle Curtiss would create one of the only leads Charlotte would have for the match at 4-3, but after that, it would be a rough fight for the 49ers. WKU’s Anderson would lead the Hill toppers to a 15-10 win over the 49ers.

The 49ers will take on FAU this coming Sunday, Sept. 30 in Halton Arena at 1 p.m.

49ers put away the Panthers

Jamie Fankhauser goes to strike to the ball. Photo by Chris Crews

The Charlotte 49ers (5-3, 1-0 C-USA) took on the FIU Panthers (0-10, 0-2 C-USA) this Thursday night, Sept. 20 at Transamerica field in a 5-1 win at home. The 49ers were led by junior forward Megan Greene who recorded a hat trick against FIU. Other leaders of the game included junior mid-fielder Jamie Fankhauser with two shots on goal, making one, and junior forward Julia Grainda with one shot on goal along with one made goal.

The 49ers came to the field with high intensity and momentum out of the gate, with Greene scoring a goal within the first 11 minutes of the game off of an assist from junior fullback, Riley Orr. Orr also recently was named defensive player of the week by Conference USA.

The ball was received by Orr deep in the left field. The junior then advanced the ball up-field with passion while being tailed closely by junior Panthers defender, Lauren Whitaker. Orr then made a direct pass to Greene, who fought to meet the ball despite the aggressive defense of FIU’s Kristen Telford. Telford missed a sliding tackle in an attempt to deflect the ball, and Greene quickly capitalized on the opportunity to put the ball in the net for the 49ers’ first points of the night.

Within the next five minutes, the Charlotte offense was within striking distance once again with mid-fielder, Fankhauser, leading the charge. Having received a long pass from the corner by way of mid-fielder Sophie Sipprell, Fankhauser took a shot on goal, and was able to put the 49ers up 2-0 late first half.

Greene would follow suit within the next few minutes, being the last to collect the ball from a volley of bounce off of a mix of FIU and Charlotte feet. Greene would put the 49ers up 3-0 before the half.

Later in the game, it would prove to be Grainda’s turn to score around the 50th minute of the game. She would receive the ball off of a hard pass from freshman forward Sarah McHale after a long push down the sideline.

The Panthers would respond with their own attack on goal led by FIU Panther Ashley Adams. Adams would score off an assist by teammate Kaydeen Jack. She would then slip between the cracks of a Charlotte defensive breakdown, and get a shot off on goal.

After a foul by the Panthers in their own penalty box within the last few minutes of the game, Charlotte would get a penalty kick which would be taken by Greene. She buried the shot immediately, putting Charlotte up 5-1 for the night.

The Charlotte 49ers finished the night with 17 shots overall, nine being on goal, and five being buried in the Panther’s net. Charlotte’s keepers would finish with five saves.

The 49ers travel to Norfolk, VA this coming Monday, Sept. 24 to play ODU.

Orr stakes her claim early

Orr takes a corner

Junior defender Riley Orr has already made her mark for the Charlotte 49ers this season. After coming off of an extremely strong performance in a win over Longwood and against VCU, Orr had the honor of C-USA Defensive Player of the Week bestowed upon her, the first time since 2014 that a Charlotte 49er has received this title.

In her first year at Niner Nation, Orr was selected for All-Conference USA third team and made the All-Conference USA Freshman team. She would go onto to be a key player in her team’s backfield during her sophomore campaign, starting in 13 of the 16 matches that she played.

In the conference championship, Orr would put in a critical PK late game that would bring the 49ers close to a back to back championship run. When asked about her upbringing, and how exactly soccer and athletics came into the picture for her, this is what she had to say.

“Well, I started playing soccer when I was about five years old. I took it up after my brother because I was always dragged to his sporting events, and he was big into soccer,” said Orr. “I just feel like I kind of followed in his footsteps.”

Orr, a Mooresville native, played soccer at Lake Norman High where she helped lead her program to a 63-6-3 record during her time there. She also helped her team collect three conference titles during her high school career at Lake Norman, and was selected as her team’s defensive MVP.

She was selected as an NCCA East-West All-Star and competed on the west team, while also receiving Honors from the NCSCAA as an All-State player. With the Charlotte 49ers, Orr’s energy and leadership have blossomed and grown not from her raw talent, which she has possessed since her days at Lake Norman, but from her experience on the collegiate level. Orr’s role, as well as the team’s role together has grown since she first stepped onto Transamerica Field.

“Well freshman year, I feel like we really didn’t have any expectations coming in. We just kind of gave it our all throughout the season, and we managed to come out as C-USA champions. Now as we’re getting older and evolving, we’re just progressing as a team and getting better and better each day.”

Along with the team goals and relationships, the leadership has developed quite a bit as well.

“Off the field, I feel like I’ve become closer with teammates and I’ve done a lot more off the field with teammates than freshman year,” she said. “I don’t know how to explain it, we’ve just become closer as a team. Especially since my freshman year, I was kind of quiet.”

The 2017 season ended in dramatic fashion, with the lady 49ers fighting their way to the top of Conference USA play once again. Head Coach John Cullen had the opportunity to do something with his girls that many other programs wouldn’t, the chance to be back to back champions.

At the end of the night, penalty kicks would be the deciding factor, and the 49ers would end the match scoreless against the North Texas Mean Green. Coming off of a high-intensity championship game in that manner, Orr and teammates worked hard in the offseason.

“My offseason, I just trained a lot with Megan and a few other teammates just running on the track and playing WPSL,” Orr said.

Orr currently sits at one goal and one assist in the four games she has played this season.

The Charlotte 49ers will take on the Rice Owls at home on Sunday, Sept. 16 at 1 p.m.

Running it Back

Benny LeMay prepares for the next play. Photo by Chris Crews

The Nation

The Forty-Niners, coming off of a frustrating 1-11 season, look to turn a new leaf with “clear eyes and full hearts” as the famous television coach, Eric Taylor would say.  With the offseason bringing in a change in coaching staff, Head Coach Brad Lambert has been given an opportunity to reshape the program in his image, and revitalize a winning culture within Niner Nation.

“It’s been good,” said Coach Lambert.  “It’s always a worry of yours, but the nice thing about the guys we brought in, you know Chris has been a head coach before at Tulane. Glenn has been a head coach at West Georgia. Shane has been a head coach at Miami (Ohio). So it’s been good for me because they have good ideas, and we can bounce things off each other.”

With key offensive players like Hasaan Klugh, Benny LeMay, and Aaron McAllister returning, much of Charlotte’s running game will remain intact.

Klugh, a redshirt senior, has led the team as starting QB for the last two years. The QB has made up for 19 of the 49ers’ 23 touchdowns this past season, including every single TD in Charlotte’s 25-24 OT win against UAB at Homecoming.

Despite many of these key moments in his career, Hassan Klugh will not be assured of his starting spot, as graduate transfer Evan Sherreffs, and redshirt freshman Chris Reynolds are both talented prospects for Charlotte this coming season.

When it comes to the rest of the 49ers offense, a lot of excitement is present among the team.

“We have a lot of versatility in the backfield, Aaron McAllister is a very fast guy in the back field,” LeMay said. “Cam is so versatile in the open field, so it will be great seeing what those guys do.”

The Niners currently stand 3-2 when it comes to season openers, while the Fordham Rams also stand 3-2 for their last five openers.

The Rams

The Rams ended their 2017 season standing with a 4-7 record. They started off their season opener in a 6-64 blowout loss against Army in West Point, NY.

With a lopsided box score showing Fordham putting up 240 passing yards compared to Army’s zero, it would seem as if the Rams’ defense had an easy assignment, but the game itself would tell a different tale. Army’s Ahmad Bradshaw and D. Woolfolk would come together to combine for 272 rushing yards themselves. In the end, Army would rush for 513 yards compared to Fordham’s 105.

The rest of the Rams’ season would be a melting pot of triumphs and defeats. The Rams would taste well-earned victories in hard fought battles, such as their 38-31 win over Central Connecticut State University, and suffer crushing blows like their 10-41 loss against Yale University.

The Rams are returning for their 2018 season with 23 seniors, eight being receivers, along with two kickers and a long snapper, which could be very promising for Fordham’s passing and kicking game.

Players to be on the lookout for include senior wide receiver Corey Caddle, who started five games this past season. The young receiver put up 392 yards his junior season, with 11.9 catches and a team leading four scores. Having his senior year interrupted by injury, the receiver is sure to step into his senior year on fire, expecting his role to expand and grow as his confidence does.

Another weapon for Rams to look out for is senior QB Luke Medlock. Appearing in eight games last season, and starting in one behind Kevin Anderson. Medlock was the second highest in passing yard averages with 75 per game.

The Rams have been known for their extensive passing game. In the past they have been led by QB Kevin Anderson who averaged 219 per game. With the graduation of Mr. Anderson, there is sure to be a shift in power which will be seen for the first time on Sept.1 in Niner Nation.

The Captain

Junior running back Benny LeMay has made his presence felt both on and off the field in his two short years in Niner Nation.

LeMay, a returning starter for the Charlotte 49ers will be serving his team as an on field captain this this coming season. The running back has 907 career rushing yards already, only 93 shy of the 1000 yards club, in his career as a 49er. He is number four all time in rushing yards for Charlotte, ranked ninth in C-USA with a 66.5 rushing average, having played all 11 of the 12 2017 season games, while starting in eight.

“Ben’s a fine, fine football player and we need for him to stay healthy. I like our depth at running back, with him being the lead guy. He’s got a chance to have a really big year for us,” said Coach Lambert.

“We want to be able to run the ball, we want to be able to put it in his hands as many times as we can, the thing that kind of gets over looked with Benny is he’s a really good catcher of the football out of the backfield, so we try to utilize that as much as we can as well, he’s a very skilled guy and we’ve got to utilize him.”

LeMay himself has set some high expectations on both himself and his team this coming season. When asked how the team plans to use last season’s 1-11 record to their advantage, this is what he had to say.

“We’ve definitely got a lot to prove this season. It’s something you definitely don’t want to throw in the trash, but you want to keep it in your rear view mirror. That way you see it everywhere you go, you use that as motivation for the season to come,” said LeMay. “They deserve to see us win.”

Kickoff is at 6 p.m., next Saturday at Jerry Richardson stadium.