Sam Palian

58 POSTS 0 COMMENTS

Charlotte moves past No. 8 in the nation FIU; earns shot at championship title

Daniel Bruce talks to his teammates during a game earlier this season. Photo by Chris Crews

The Charlotte 49ers (8-4-6) are on to the championship match after sailing past a formerly unbeaten and top-10 ranked FIU (11-1-4). They are hoping to continue their impressive postseason performance and grab the program its first championship title in four years, being the seventh in program history.

FIU took the lead at 1-0 early on in the game, after only 12 minutes of play when Santiago Patino passed the ball to teammate Paul Marie. Almost 12 minutes later the Niners put themselves back in it when Daniel Bruce sent a ball to Marco Sunol-Rojas to tie the game at 1-1.

After Charlotte brought the game up to a 1-1 tie, a Joe Brito goal would put the Niners on top where they would then stay to get a deserved win and further their run for the championship. He scored his only goal with only 14 minutes remaining in regulation time of the game. Brito managed to rush past his defender into the box and receive a cross from a hard working Dean Rutherford, to chip in a header for the Niner’s second goal of the night.

With merely 21 seconds left in the game Charlotte’s Noah Seach would score his first goal of the season bringing the score to 3-1, a further guarantee of a shot at a C-USA Championship.

Charlotte took double as many shots as FIU sitting at 14-7 as the team who better showed how determined they are. The Niners are heading into the championship final off of a recent three wins and three well fought tie games as well. Being a team that is working incredibly hard toward their goal of a confeence championship title, they can certainly accomplish it.

The Niners will play Old Dominion on Sunday, Nov. 12 at 2 p.m. In early October the Charlotte fell to ODU 2-1.

Garcia breaks a record; Niners win

Yumi Garcia. Photo by Pooja Pasapula

Charlotte (19-10, 6-7 C-USA) beat UTSA for the first time 3-1 to get a bid into the conference tournament next week, through quite an incredible performance.

Yumi Garcia, with 19 digs in that match broke a school record to both make history for herself and for her team. In just the seventh rally of the evening, Garcia had two digs to send her over the previous record set in 2008 of 571 digs by Carly Romberg. Her 19 digs now set her at only five digs away from becoming part of C-USA’s top 20 for digs within a single season as well as putting herself only away 11 from the 600 club.

The single win by the Roadrunners followed one of four very competitive sets in which Alex Boone had a kill to bring Charlotte up to 21-20 over UTSA, then Janell Sparks managed to push it up 23-23 after a whole seven more plays. Unfortunate mistakes by some Niners led to a UTSA win for that set.

Down a set and down 1 at a score of 14-13 in the second set, it was here that Charlotte would begin their comeback in not only the set, but for the night too.

A six-point run included two aces by Sofie Perrens, Sparks with a kill and combo block by Boone. Jocelyn Stoner hacked down a kill to give Charlotte a 19-14 lead before a combo block and a solo block by Sydney Rowan would bring it to 22-17. Shortly after, two kills by Rowan and a last block by Janelle Curtiss and Tatyana Thomas leveled out the match to 1-1.

The Niners continued their push for a win in the third, starting their continuous lead at 14-14. Rowan would have two back-to-back kills prior to 2 more from Thomas and another block and assist from Cutriss would force UTSA into a timeout as Charlotte gained their 18-15 advantage. The Roadrunners would then get only as close as a score of 19-17 behind their opponent . Some errors now by UTSA would hurt them and then a block by Curtiss and Boone led the Niners to 2-1.

Charlotte certainly committed to a win and did not let up in the slightest. They very quickly surged into a 10-5 lead over the Roadrunners prior to finishing off the night and their win with a whopping 28-15 set. Charlotte’s first 15 points of the set were essentially products of their tremendous defense which forced UTSA into quite a few errors. The Roadrunners would have a grand 30 errors to Charlotte’s 11.

Rowan and Sparks’ kill pushed the lead up to 16-13. Stoners’ kill and Taylor Berg’s first kill of the season rose the score to 20-15 when UTSA went into yet another timeout. Thomas would help on Charlotte’s last three kills of the evening, collaborating with Curtiss for another combo block and then setting up Rowan in order to clinch the match with her final kill of the game.

Charlotte’s defense would also hold UTSA to a .155 hitting night while they hit for .343 within their own first set and for .458 in the third, ending the game with a .312 hitting night. The defense would also lead with a tremendous 18-3 in blocks over their opponent.

Among a few Niners with double digits in the game, Rowan would lead with 18 kills, Sparks then with 13 and Thomas with 10. Perrens would rack up 24 assists and Mackenzie Reaume would contribute 22. Rowan would end the night with her 13th double-double through 12 digs and and her 18 kills. Boone would match her own career highs with a solo block and nine assists for 10 in the nights.

The Niners had a quite comeback and a most tremendous performance and will continue their run in the regular season Saturday, Nov. 11 at 10 a.m. against Florida Atlantic.

Niners beat New Mexico; move on to semi-finals

49ers celebrate after a goal earlier this season. Photo by Chris Crews

Fourth seed Charlotte (7-4-6) is making their way through the Conference USA tournament. The Niners beat fifth seed New Mexico (8-6-4) in the quarterfinals by way of a penalty kick from Callum Montgomery.

The lone goal was scored off of a penalty kick taken by Montgomery, but it was quite a play that would result in the opportunity.

Daniel Bruce would run the ball down the left side of the box and serve a rather nice cross over to the right side of the box where Fernando Garcia was making a run in to the meet to the pass for yet another attempt at the first goal of the game when a New Mexico defender would foul Garcia in the box to give Charlotte a penalty kick.

Montgomery’s goal was the third of the season and his second career game-winning goal.

Charlotte led the game with a 15-13 shot advantage. The two teams certainly battled offensively, but a good offense would be no good without a highly reliable defense behind them as well.

A very solid defensive effort by Mongomery, Patrick Hogan, Luke Johnson, Zhuvonte Wilson and Noah Seach as well as the consistently incredible goal keeping by Elliot Panicco meant Charlotte was able to get a win. The match was Panicco’s sixth shutout of the season, recording seven saves in the quarterfinal competition.

On top of the defensive efforts, Tommy Madden would lead the game in shots with four, Teddy Chaouche would take three and Bruce would have two.

Charlotte had several wonderful scoring opportunities in the first half, one by way of a free kick in the 19th minute from Chaouche from quite a ways out that would unfortunately be stopped by New Mexico goal keep Jason Beaulieu.

Another would come in the 31st minute when Bruce took a nice shot that was again saved by the keeper. Marco Sunol-Rojas would soon take another shot in the 36th minute, but his header would be stopped as well.

Madden would take two shots next, one in the 39th minute, that would be just tapped away by Beaulieu. His next would come in the 41st minute as his shot would be just a bit too high.

In the 67th minute, Bruce took a shot from fairly far out that would go right over the goal keeper’s head, but would ring off of the crossbar.

The Niners will continue their all around tremendous efforts on Friday, Nov. 10 at 4:30 p.m. in Norfolk, VA.

Bruce named Offensive Player of the Week

Daniel Bruce swings the ball around Kentucky defender. Photo by Chris Crews.

After his performance against Kentucky on Saturday, redshirt junior Daniel Bruce was named Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week, for the 2nd time in his career.

Bruce was awarded his first C-USA Offensive Player of the Week last season was earned through a game-winning goal over No. 3 Clemson.

Bruce spent his first year at Charlotte redshirted and then took only three shots in 2015, very quickly became a driving force on Charlotte’s offense.

He was essential last season in helping his fellow Niners claim the C-USA regular season title as well as continue to be nationally ranked throughout the season and earn a seed in the NCAA Tournament.

To earn his second career Offensive Player of the Week Bruce scored Charlotte’s lone goal against Kentucky in the 1-1 double over time tie game.

Zhuvonte Wilson crossed the ball from near midfield on the right side to just inside the box on the left side of the field for Callum Montgomery to head he ball straight to Bruce who scored a wonderful goal propelling right into the net, for his sixth goal this season.

Bruce leads the Niners with six goals and is currently tied for second in C-USA for goals in conference play with four goals. His six goals this season so far put him at 12 career goals as well as having six assists.

As the fourth seed, Charlotte will face New Mexico in the quarterfinals of the C-USA Conference Championship Wednesday, Nov. 8 at 2 p.m. in Norfolk, VA.

 

Championship run ends in a loss for Niners in PK shootout

49ers celebrate earlier in the season. Photo by Pooja Pasupula

Last season, Charlotte ended their fight for a championship title with another PK shootout and were able to turn that into a deserved win. Unfortunately in this season’s championship game, after 110 minutes of battling for a scoreless game, the Niners would enter a PK shootout yet again, this time against North Texas. This year, however, Charlotte was not able to come out victorious.

Charlotte (11-8-2) earned the first attempt, with Kyla Clark taking the first shot and sending it a little wide. North Texas’ Tori Phillips then scored the first goal of the afternoon to put them up 1-0. Meredith Hamby took the next shot for Charlotte and had it saved, fortunately her teammate Abby Stapleton then saved the next North Texas (14-3-4) attempt by Brittney Lawson.

Abby Taylor then got Charlotte back in it with a ball right through the reach of Brooke Lamp. Elle Marie DeFrain responded with another goal for North Texas. Riley Orr took what would be the last PK for the Niners as Taylor Torres then put one into the net to win the championship title for the Mean Green.

Charlotte came into the championship game as the No. 8 seed, ready to meet with the No. 2 seed and they most certainly battled, both highly intent on the win. The draw is the first in meetings between the two teams.

The Niners would compete in the last 66 minutes of play without their Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year. Martha Thomas left the game with less than two minutes to go in the first period of the game and unfortunately would not return to the game.

The Niners who have yet to beat the Mean Green in their seven meetings, had several good scoring opportunities to put themselves in place for a win, but would be stopped by goal keep Brooke Bradley.

All-Conference USA Freshman Team member Stapleton, though, showed the same commitment to defending her team’s net, saving 7 North Texas attempts and finished her first conference tournament without having given up a goal in 290 minutes.

In the second half, Taylor and Julia Grainda had decent back-to-back shots that were sadly kept out by the Mean Green’s defense. Jamie Frankhauser took a pretty shot in the 80th minute of play only to be thwarted by a stop by Bradley. She would take a second shot from the far post after Megan Greene sent her a pass in the 97th minute. The shot would go just over Bradley’s head to then come back into her hands for another save.

As the final minute of over time approached, Mary Manser would send the ball toward the net hitting the crossbar and heading straight to the ground unfortunately, not over the goal line which the referees had initially decided. The game remained scoreless after an incredible fight from Charlotte.

“We’re immensely proud. You know, to play three games in five days and not give up a goal, I mean that’s the sign of a championship team. Today, we just came up a bit short. I thought we were the better team, we had the more dangerous chances. We couldn’t ask anymore,” said Coach John Cullen. “I think we’ve done the program and the athletic department at Charlotte proud by just back-to-back finals. This one today, just wasn’t our day.”

A highly offensive and competitive season for these Niners who worked incredibly hard to have the season that they did, will now be losing four seniors. A player who could be considered the program’s greatest, Martha Thomas, along with teammates Kyla Clark, Virginia Lingo, and Shealyn Dwyer have sadly reached the end of their collegiate career.

Charlotte will return in the spring, and in the meantime will be preparing for the program’s 25th season in 2018.

5 Niners earn C-USA Honors

Thomas quickly makes her way past an opponent. Photo by Pooja Pasupula.

This season’s Conference USA honors have been awarded and on the lists are Charlotte 49ers Meredith Hamby, Abby Stapleton, Megan Greene, Kelley Suggs, and Martha Thomas.

Meredith Hamby and Abby Stapleton were added to the All-Conference USA Freshman team, marking the second-straight season that two Charlotte players were placed on the freshman team. It is the eighth season in a row that at least a singe player has earned a spot on the team.

Stapleton has been the team’s chief goalkeeper for the large majority of the season, starting in 17 0f 18 matches. In a come-back win over FAU at Transamerica field, she recorded her highest number of saves during a conference match at nine shots. She earned her career best in Charlotte’s season opener against USF with 10 saves.

Hamby saw the most minutes of any field player at 1584 minutes of playing time. As a part of the back line she helped hold 10 opponents to a goal or or less, six times in conference matches, through her incredible defensive play.

Three Niners were placed All-Conference teams, including Kelley Suggs to the All-Conference USA third team and Martha Thomas and Megan Greene were placed on theAll-Conference USA first team.

Suggs was also tabbed to the 2016 All-Conference USA Tournament team when Charlotte won the conference title last season. At her defensive midfielder position she helped her defense in holding those 10 opponents to their one goal or less as well as playing an integral part in one of the most impressive offensive strikes in the nation.

Greene who was Suggs’ high school and club teammate, certainly earned her spot on the first team this season after previously earning a spot on the All-Conference USA team and being named the conference’s freshman of the year. She was the fourth freshman in program history last season to have reached 10 goals as a freshman, and she has reached that landmark again this season grabbing another double-digit season at 10 goals yet again.

Thomas, currently an All-America candidate, was awarded both a spot on the All-Conference USA team as well as being named the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year for the second season in a row. She was also chosen as the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year this fall and clearly lived up to the title repeatedly.

She is currently 1 of 10 candidates for the Senior CLASS award and was featured in Sports Illustrated last fall as one of six athletes in the Faces in the Crowd section. Of many recognitions received from TopDrawerSoccer.com, she was placed at No. 20 on their National Midseason Top 100 charts, most certainly the highest ranking ever receive by a Conference-USA player.

Thomas enters post regular season holding the program’s records for most goals with 45, most points with 116, and most shots with 297 shots. As far as game-winning goals though, she only needs one more to equal Whitney Weinraub’s 13.

These outstanding 49ers and their excellent teammates will began their conference tournament play in the quarterfinals as the N0. 8 seed defeated the No. 1 seed and regular season champions Rice this morning.

 

The final quarter

The three seniors from the men’s basketball team: Hudson Price, Corey Bias and Austin Ajukwa. Photo courtesy of Uncle Jut

Hudson Price, Corey Bias, and Austin Ajukwa have each reached their final season of college basketball and they are certainly hoping to make their senior year the greatest they’ve seen.

Price, a 6’7” guard from Orlando, Florida who just happens to be the coach’s son, transferred from TCU for the 2015-2016 season and would sit out for his redshirt season. He excels academically earning a spot on NABC Honors Court list last year.

“We’ve been through two rebuilding years and this year our goal is definitely to finish in the top four and that’ll give us a bye in the conference tournament and I think we’ll have a great shot to win it,” Price said.

Price saw minutes in 28 games last season with two starts. He had his first career 20 point game at Elon in 2016 with 23 points off the bench, having a a nearly perfect game going 6 for 6 from the field, while going 4 for 4 from the three and 7 for 8 from the free throw line.

Corey Bias, a 6’1” guard from Milwaukee, Wisconsin walked on to the Charlotte men’s basketball team in 2016.

Bias was recently awarded a scholarship for his senior season at Charlotte in September.

“I love the unity here. Everybody likes each other well enough, especially this year everybody’s working hard together moving toward our goals. Committing to that process is something that the team has been working for since Coach Price got here,” Bias said.

Bias saw his first action in a game last season in the final minute of the Niners’ home C-USA win over North Texas. He scored his first two career points going 2 for 2 from the free throw line against Southern Miss in another home win for Charlotte.

A third senior, Austin Ajukwa a 6’7” guard from Columbia, South Carolina sat out the first nine games of the 2016-17 season at Charlotte after transferring from Clemson.

Ajukwa had his first career double double with 13 points and 10 rebounds at North Texas last season. In February of last season he managed to score a career high 30 points and grab 11 rebounds in Charlotte’s win over FIU.

“We’re getting better every single day. As seniors, we have to lead by example. We’ve been around the game pretty long you know we have that experience. All of us have to come ready to work in practice everyday, and know that new players especially with our big freshman class that our teammates are looking up to us, as leaders and as captains,” Ajukwa said.

Senior year never lasts as long as you hope it will, and it will come to an end far too quickly. These seniors have set out to make it last as long as they can and to put Charlotte men’s basketball at the top.

Niners best Panthers 2-3

Dean Rutherford and teammates celebrate after scoring winning goal. Photo by Chris Crews.

After heading into overtime for the fourth straight home game, Dean Rutherford found the net in the 92nd minute and the Niners pulled out a 4-3 win over Georgia State. Four Charlotte (6-4-4) players were able to score against the Panthers (9-5-1), Daniel Bruce, Teddy Chaouche, Tommy Madden and Rutherford.

“We scored four good goals tonight, that’s the difference. We played very, very well in front of the goal. I think we had 15 shots, scored four and had another couple of good looks. We looked very efficient in front of the goal, we’ve been working on it very, very hard,” coach Kevin Langan said.

An offensively competitive game between the Niners and the Panthers seemed at first like a sure win for Charlotte and then quickly as if they would be looking at yet another draw. Ending yet another game in over time, a fourth goal by Charlotte’s Rutherford made for his first goal of the season and his career.

Charlotte scored two goals in the first thirty minutes of play, the first being a product of good passing. Luke Johnson drilled the ball down field to Spaulding who utilized his footwork to pass the ball inside to Bruce from the left side of the box. Bruce then sent a close shot right into the back of the net for his fifth goal of the season, continuing to lead the team in goals.

Georgia State quickly responded to their deficit with Nick Hague’s first goal of the season, getting the ball out of action and into the net less than two minutes after Charlotte’s second score.

With just under a minute in the first half of play, Rashid Alarape would take a penalty kick only for Elliot Panicco to make a wonderful block and another save after that when Alarape attempted to shoot the ball right back for a goal.

The game would reach it’s half with Charlotte up 2-1 and leading shots so far 10-7.

Panther Max Hemmings tied up the game, scoring Georgia State’s second goal of the game off of assists from both Frank Rosenwald and Alarape in the 50th minute of play.

No more than five minutes later, the Panthers would take the lead at 3-2 as Adu-Boahene Kwaku passed the ball to Alarape who sent the ball into the left corner of the net.

Only just over three minutes after Georgia State took the lead, Madden tied the game for Charlotte in the 57th minute when he sent a ball flying just into the right side of the net on a free kick.

The final goal by Rutherford gave Charlotte the win in their last regular season conference home game at 4-3 after 91 minutes and 19 seconds of play at Transamerica Field.

The Niners will return to Conference USA play when they travel to New Mexico on Saturday, Oct. 28 at 9 p.m.

 

 

 

 

 

Another draw for the Niners

Daniel Bruce attempts to take a shot against South Carolina. Photo by Chris Crews

Before the match began, seniors Sean Bowman, Banks Fisher, Marco Sunol-Rojas and Zhuvonte Wilson were honored for their senior night. Less than four minutes after coming into the game, Ryan Spaulding scored his second goal of the season in the 30th minute of play for Charlotte’s only goal of the game. After 110 minutes of play, the game would end in a 1-1 tie between C-USA teams South Carolina (4-8-2, 0-4-2 C-USA) and Charlotte (5-4-4, 2-1-3 C-USA).

A quick turn-around in intensity of play for Charlotte led to much more aggressive competition from both teams. Before the second half the 49ers would take two more shots including a header by Callum Montogmery sent just over the goal to match the Gamecocks with three shots each in the first half.

“We started the game so flat. It kind of shocked me a little bit because we haven’t done that,” Charlotte Coach Kevin Langan said. “We managed to turn it around, we got a goal before half time. Second half, I thought we played extremely well. We forced their goalie into numerous saves, just couldn’t get that second goal.”

An early shot attempt by Daniel Bruce in the second half went high to miss the net and a second by a header from Bruce just in front of the goalkeeper would be saved by Gamecock William Pyle.

Spaulding’s third career goal was not enough for Charlotte to end regulation with a win. Going into the last five minutes of the second half, the 49ers led the game in corners 6-5 and in shots 11-4.

In the 86th minute of play Luca Mayr would take a corner to give Peyton Ericson a goal to bring South Carolina to a tie with the Niners at 1-1.

Both Spaulding and Joe Brito would each have another attempt at a second Charlotte goal in the last two minutes of the half only to end regulation time with Bruce putting up quite the fight within the last minute in the box to help his team get a win.

The Niners had a tough defensive front, holding the Gamecocks to three shots in the first half and only two in the second. Elliot Panicco had a beautiful diving save in the 25th minute of the match to hinder South Carolina’s Mayr from scoring.

Charlotte led 17-10 in shots by the game’s end and through their tremendous offensive effort, Brito led the team with four shots, Bruce with three and Spaulding, Teddy Chaouche and Callum Montgomery each with two shots. Fernando Garcia, Tommy Madden and Noah Seach also each took a single shot.

Unluckily, the Charlotte 49ers’ 17 shots produced only a single goal and would secure no more than a tie with the South Carolina Gamecocks.

“All in all, a really disappointing night for us. I think we’re good enough, I think we’ve got a really, really good team. I think we’ve got all the pieces we need, but there has to be an urgency to our play now. The season’s coming to an end, so we’ve got to start playing with that playoff soccer mentality, leave it all on the field and take care of business. Tonight, hopefully we learned a big lesson,” Langan said.

Charlotte’s last non-conference home game will be played Tuesday night, Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. at Transamerica field against Georgia State.

 

Winning games and building a culture

Martha Thomas drills the ball past VCU opponent. Photo by Pooja Pasupula.

In any sport and on every team, there are firsts and there are lasts and the seniors of Charlotte Women’s Soccer are experiencing some of these this fall. There is always a first game, a first goal and a first time playing a certain position or against a particular team. There will be last goals, last games and a last time playing with teammates that have become part of a family.

Kyla Clark, Shealyn Dwyer, Virginia Lingo and Martha Thomas are doing what they can to make this last year at Charlotte the best they have ever seen.

Having been Conference USA Champions last season and dropping the first round game of the NCAA Tournament, the girls had high hopes for their team this year.

“It’s definitely weird to be a senior, you know people say it will fly by and it definitely does and I can’t believe how fast it’s come. I’m really proud of where I am right now, I think our team is moving in a really good direction, so I’m really excited for my senior year to go out even better than last year,” Thomas said.

Thomas, an All-American candidate and currently among the top 10 finalists for the annual Senior CLASS Award, began the year as the Preseason C-USA Offensive Player of the Year. She was the fourth player in the conference to be named to National Team of the Week this season by TopDrawerSoccer.com, this being the fourth time in her career including an honorable mention giving her the most of such honors of any individual in program history.

Thomas has scored 10 goals so far this season among her 43 career goals so far, scoring two goals in the conference opener against Marshall to bring her to 41 goals. This made her the player with the most career goals in Charlotte women’s soccer history, surpassing Whitney Weinraub’s 39 goals.

“I would honestly say it’s one of those things that’s just happened. It’s not something that when I came to this program I said to myself, ‘I’m gonna break records and score goals.’ I was never really a goal scorer before I came here to be completely honest with you. It’s just been a result of how much passion I have for the game and it’s just come in a way, naturally, and I haven’t had to force anything. I don’t go game by game saying, ‘ I need to score I need to score.’ My teammates and we as a team create a lot of opportunities and I’ve just been on the end of them,” Thomas said.

One of the teammates that helps to create these opportunities is Virginia Lingo, who has an extreme passion, similar to Thomas, for what she does on and off the field here at Charlotte.

Virginia Lingo dribbles the ball. Photo by Katelynn Pennington

Having taken five of her 15 career shots on goal so far this season, Lingo acquired her first official career goal this season against Gardner-Webb last month, with an assist from her fellow senior teammate Martha Thomas.

Much like the rest of the Charlotte women’s soccer program, Lingo holds herself and her teammates to an even higher standard this year, hoping to be repeat conference champions and move further within the NCAA Tournament.

“I think that we need to think about the goal in mind every time we get out there and just try to do better and know that if we’re messing up, we have higher expectations of us this year,” Lingo said.

A third senior on the Charlotte Women’s soccer squad is Shealyn Dwyer, who in addition to her teammates is working her hardest to help lead her team to another Conference USA championship win.

Having played in the Conference USA championship win against FAU and the first round match of the NCAA tournament against Duke, Dwyer couldn’t be hungrier for her team for another championship title and to advance further in the NCAA tournament as well.

“It’s going to be a challenge to defend our title, but that’s the goal. Back to back trophies, holding those up. That’s gonna be awesome and we’re striving toward that every day,” Dwyer said.

In order to accomplish such feats as the Charlotte Women’s Soccer program has, a team has to be united and has to work hard to hold each other to a higher standard than other teams do. These young women are working tirelessly together to improve, to progress forward this season, make moves to better the program by getting further in the NCAA tournament and possibly even win a national title.

“This year is different from other seasons, because I feel like we’re more of a family and I feel like that camaraderie really helps us win and lose together, work harder and practice harder together just to get back to the championship,” Dwyer said.

It is evident throughout games and after the final minutes have run off of the clock that the 49ers are a family that supports each other in a big way, win or lose.

Last, but certainly not least among the senior squad is Kyla Clark.

Kyla Clark celebrates her first goal with her teammates. Photo by Pooja Pasupula

Doubling as both a defender and a forward, Clark accompanied Lingo in scoring her first career goal this season against VCU within the fifth minute of play off of yet another assist by her co-captain Martha Thomas.

“For the past three years, I found myself playing in more defensive roles and this year, I’ve kind of been playing in more attacking roles and so it was exciting to actually get a goal and be a part of the attack,” Kyla Clark said.

Clark agrees that the team has grown closer and this has helped them strive toward reaching their goals of winning regular season, another conference championship and again get the program into the NCAA tournament and continue to prove the program’s dominance.

“We’re just trying to hold everyone accountable, making sure everyone’s working hard together, keeping the team close really helps. And we’re not just doing it for the championship, we’re trying to leave a culture that lasts beyond from when we were here and set the team up for success in the future,” Clark said.

These hardworking seniors will be honored Oct. 19 for Senior Night at Transamerica Field. The 49ers take on North Texas at 7 p.m.

 

49ers lose heartbreaker to No. 5 Louisville

Daniel Bruce tries to escape a Louisville defender. Photo by Chris Crews

Charlotte (5-4-3) controlled the game extremely well for the larger part of the game, forcing fifth ranked Louisville (10-1-3) to remain at Transamerica for extra time, but lost to the Cardinals 1-0 in overtime.

“I’m really proud of the guys, the effort was fantastic. We took a good team down to the wire and we should have won the game. This sets us up nicely as we move on through the rest of the season and the postseason,” Charlotte Coach Kevin Langan said.

Cardinal Liam Bennett scored the lone goal of the night in the 96th minute of play after a pass from Adrien Cabon to Adam Wilson and then to Bennett for his shot into the upper left corner of the net. Charlotte led in shots 12-8 and Louisville led in shots on goal 4-3.

Teddy Chaouche led the Niners in shots with four while Ryan Spaulding and Daniel Bruce both took two and Callum Montgomery, Myles Brown, Sean Bowman and Fernando Garcia would each take one apiece as well.

Several great scoring opportunities occurred for Charlotte back to back starting in the 55th minute with two shots by Teddy Chaouche including a free kick that hit the cross bar and a shot saved by Louisville goalkeep Will Meyers. In the 58th minute, Callum Montgomery would contribute a nice shot as well, but it would be stopped by Meyers yet again.

Shortly after these shots was a corner in the 77th minute by Spaulding that came ever so close to curving into the net, but it was also stopped by Louisville’s Meyers.

A game full of wonderful passes, impressive footwork and incredibly aggressive play was not enough for the Niners for to get another win over Louisville, now having a record of 9-6 against the Cardinals.

“We’ve just got to keep going, got to keep believing, keep making the same runs, doing the same work,” Langan said. “It’ll hurt tonight and tomorrow we’ll get straight back at it, start focusing on Friday with South Carolina. So, that’s the nature of college, you know you don’t have time to celebrate too much and you don’t have time to commiserate too much, there’s just another huge conference game coming up for us on Friday.”

Zhuvonte Wilson who a tremendous game off of the bench offensively against Louisville, along with his fellow seniors Marco Sunol-Rojas and Sean Bowman, will be recognized for their senior night before their conference game against the South Carolina Gamecocks this Friday, Oct. 20 at 7 p.m. at Transamerica Field.

 

 

Niners draw 1-1 against Golden Eagles

Niners huddle before the match. Photo by Chris Crews.

The 49ers (9-5-1, 4-2-1 C-USA) came to a tie at a score of 1-1 with Southern Miss (6-6-3, 0-4-3 C-USA) after double over time.

Beginning the match nearly an hour later than the original start time due to no-show officials, all of the Charlotte seniors saw starting spots for the first time this season along with freshman Maddie Bragaw who had her first career start against Southern Miss.

Several shots early on in play by both teams set the tone for the game to be a very competitive one.

Charlotte led in corner kicks a mighty 12-1, a number of them taken by senior Virginia Lingo having taken three within less than a minute of play during the first half and a fourth less than a minute after the last.

Megan Greene, Martha Thomas and Lingo each had shots on goal, including a close header by Greene before Thomas scored the lone goal of the match off of a penalty kick as a result of a yellow given to Golden Eagle goalkeeper Kelly Brahmbatt for a foul toward Greene at 28:09.

Unluckily for Charlotte, Southern Miss quickly responded to their deficit with a strong offense and a loose ball near the Charlotte goal resulted in an own goal by Charlotte to bring the score to 1-1 within the same minute of play at 28:50.

The late start was just the beginning of the lengthy day this game would turn out to be when a delay due to lightning occurred with less than four minutes left in the first half and everyone would keep off of the field for 30 minutes.

As scoring concluded in the 29th minute of play the rest of the match was quite a battle, much of that battle being among the midfield in the larger part of the second half.

It certainly was a tough game for both the Niners and the Golden Eagles, both working hard and creating the right opportunities and simply not being able to capitalize on them and break down the other’s defense.

“As a coaching staff, I just think we’re immensely proud of the girls, it was a long, tough day for us today,” said Coach John Cullen. “They just worked so hard and played so well today.”

Charlotte had many chances to score, finishing the game with 29 shots to the Golden Eagles’ 15 and 13-9 shots on goal. Riley Orr who took five shots had a shot several yards outside the 18 that flew just over the net and an impressive header close to the net by Sophie Sipprell in 67th minute of play was saved and also would not produce a much needed 49ers goal.

Megan Greene led the team in shots with seven while both Thomas and Orr took five and Jamie Frankhauser had taken four.

Golden Eagle Beth Coleman led Southern Miss in shots with five goals, three of which were on frame with her first shot being within the eighth minute of play.

Seniors Kyla Clark, Shealyn Dwyer, Lingo, and All-America candidate Thomas who were all members of the starting 11 at Southern Miss will be honored at their senior night prior to their next home match at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19 at Transamerica Field facing North Texas.

 

 

The Mean Green family

The team huddles during practice. Photo by Sam Palian

There are over 400 different student organizations on campus and at least 35 of these are sports clubs. One of these clubs is Women’s Rugby.

The Women’s Rugby club at Charlotte was started in 1996 by Kandas Burnett. Four years later, in 2000, the club took a break and then reassembled again in 2008 by way of Maddy Clark and other UNC Charlotte graduates. These young ladies may not have known what kind of a staple this club would be in the lives of many other students in the future, but it certainly has proven to be one.

“Rugby has meant everything to me. These women aren’t just my teammates they’re my family. Even the alumni show love every time they show up,” junior Rachel Jordan said.

Like Jordan said, this is a club with a strong alumni presence, and is currently being coached by former player Allie Pickett. Many other former coaches and players will come around from time to time to help out as well.

The women who are members of the Charlotte Women’s Rugby Club clearly have the drive to be great on and off the field and push each other to do so, this being one of the club’s goals which they surely seem to achieve.

The Mean Green does their best to encourage each other in more ways than one. They push each other to get better in practice and their games speak to this. Not only do they provide encouragement as athletes and as teammates, but they also have important relationships with each other that they may not have otherwise had if it were not for joining the club.

“When you join our rugby team, you gain a family for life,” junior Mikayla Coxe said.

To these students this sports club involves much more than just a game. The team’s practices immediately exhibit their work ethic as well as their ability to just enjoy each other and have a good time. A family, as the girls describe, is fairly evident and a big family at that.

A large number of the members of the team had never played rugby or knew too much about the sport until joining this club. The club prides itself on being open to anyone and being able to help them catch on to the sport and in turn, become skilled in the game fairly quickly as well.

“I actually had never played rugby before I got to UNC Charlotte and it has easily become one of the best parts of my life. Rugby has taught me to be a leader a well as help me grow as an athlete and an overall better person. I’m forever grateful for this club and the opportunities it has given me,” junior Tia Wilson said.

They recently played their first friendly-season game of the year against Elon University, winning their match 67-0. In the previous season of 2016-2017, the women finished their fall season with a record of 4-0 and then placed 13th in the country in their division. The club plays their more competitive season in the spring and do just as tremendously.

The team is working hard this year to get better than ever before and all of the players seem to be very committed to this goal. Moving smoothly in the latter parts of the playoffs each season, the team is hoping to make it even further this year.

“I think we will do well this year. We have a very strong team, and our new players have picked up the game incredibly quickly. After making it to regional playoffs for the past two years, we are hoping to make nationals in the spring,” senior Maggie Reichard said.

Working toward a national championship, the team has high hopes, but are undoubtedly doing their best to make it happen.

Charlotte drops 4th straight to Georgia State

Charlotte head coach Brad Lambert on the sidelines. Photo by Chris Crews

The Charlotte 49ers football program suffered the first shutout in program history in their 28-0 defeat against Georgia State on Saturday night. The Panthers (1-2) scored two touchdowns in the first half and two again in the second, the 49ers (0-4) had less than 20 minutes of possession time during the contest.

Offensively, the 49ers started off slow, pushing for 19 yards total in the first quarter to combat the Panthers’ 92 yards. In Charlotte’s total possession of four minutes and twenty-three seconds in the first quarter, Benny Lemay rushed for seven yards as did Hasaan Klugh, who also recorded a pass to Mark Quattlebaum for five yards.

Georgia State quarterback Conner Manning passed for 172 yards in the first half, including a 32 yard pass to Penny Hart for the second touchdown of the night with 44 seconds left in the half.

The Panthers led Charlotte in third down conversions 7-0 by the end of the first quarter and 15-4 at the finish of the first half. Unfortunately, to the Panthers’ 15 third down conversions, Charlotte only had four such conversions by the end of the half. Unable to capitalize on the offensive opportunities, the 49ers ended the first three of five drives in the 2nd quarter with punts by Arthur Hart.

“We’ve got to find a way to generate some offense. I thought Benny was running hard, but you know I’ll give Georgia State credit they’ve got a big defensive front and we’ve got to block them and make plays. They had played two pretty good teams, we knew that they were a good team coming in. It doesn’t surprise me at all, but we’ve got to play better on offense,” Charlotte Coach Brad Lambert said.

Quattlebaum caught six passes from Klugh to gain 91 yards, including a pass to gain 52 yards in the 2nd quarter pushing Charlotte as far as the 12-yard line. It was here that it looked as if the Niners were ready to rally, but in the very next play after a Charlotte timeout, Panthers safety Bryan Williams intercepted a pass from Klugh in the end zone and returned for six yards.

“We’ve just got to look inside of ourselves just to see what we’ve got to do personally and what we can do to help the team as an individual before we can do anything, honestly,” redshirt junior Quattlebaum said. “We’ve just got to eliminate all the self, anything that has to do with self, and just play for everybody else on our team and just give it everything we’ve got.”

At the conclusion of the first half, Charlotte had 22 rushing yards for the Panthers’ 67, but also had a more respectable 121 passing yards in comparison to Georgia State’s 172 passing yards. This was a significant improvement from Klugh’s five passing yards in the first quarter to his 116 yards in the second quarter, still the slowly developing 49ers offense could not pull off any points. The first half finished behind 14-0, hoping to come back out in the second half and strike gold.

The third quarter presented the Niners with one longer drive than the Panthers’ two drives combined, but still ended with no score either way. Tackles by Karrington King, Juwan Foggie, Marquavis Gibbs, Ben DeLuca and others kept Georgia State from a third quarter score, yet the Niners would continue to go without an offensive performance to produce a score.

In the start of the fourth quarter came a heartbreaking play for the Niners when a field goal attempt by Georgia State’s Brandon Wright was blocked and then touched by Jeff Gemmell in the end zone, only to be recovered by Shamarious Gilmore for the Panthers’ third touchdown and field goal sending them into a 21-0 lead over Charlotte.

“I knew we stopped it, I knew what was going through Jeff’s mind. You know, you tell them not to fool with the ball if it crosses the line of scrimmage, but it was in the air so long. I could just see what was going through his head, he was going to try and make something happen, so we had a goofy play there,” Lambert said. “We did some good things defensively, but you know once again you’ve got to get yourself up the field in the first half.”

Benny LeMay rushed for 83 yards against Georgia State, rushing for 43 of those yards in the only Charlotte drive of the fourth quarter. This put Lemay at 280 rushing yards so far this season. Klugh rushed for a total of 21 yards, but it did not prove to be enough to get the Niners into the end zone for a score.

LeMay rushed for 27 yards in the fourth quarter and although Klugh rushed for 19 yards and passed for 28 yards, he accompanied these yards with seven incomplete passes in the quarter, in only two Charlotte drives.

Two holding penalties, one by Eugene German and another by Chris Brown, showed the 49ers’ frustration in the fourth quarter which were then followed by a couple more setbacks for Klugh and his team.

Klugh threw another interception into the end zone to end the first Niners drive of the fourth quarter. The interception was again caught by Bryan Willams who was quickly pushed into the back of the end zone out-of-bounds by T.L. Ford II. This play ended Charlotte’s longest possession of the game after seven minutes and thirty-five seconds.

In the next Charlotte drive, Klugh would throw another incomplete pass to Chris Montgomery with two 49ers penalties in the same play. After a three yard rush by Klugh and two passes for 13 yards, Panther Dontae Wilson sacked Klugh for a loss of eight yards. Georgia State scored their final touchdown on the following drive.

The winless 49ers will head to FIU (2-1) to play on Saturday, Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. Charlotte last faced FIU October 15th, 2016 at Jerry Richardson Stadium and fell to the Panthers 27-26.