The 49ers' comeback attempt fell just short as Charlotte lost to the FAU Owls 4-3 in two overtimes in the Conference USA semifinals. The loss ends the 49ers run in the C-USA tournament.
“Heartbreaking losing in OT and just crushing. It was an amazing, intense game worthy of a semifinal match,” said Charlotte Head Coach John Cullen.
The Owls’ offense started the game firing on all cylinders as Pernile Velta scored in the sixth minute of action off of a pass from Tiril Haga and as Mary O’Hara scored in the twelfth minute via an assist from Velta. Haga extended the lead to 3-0 in the 22nd minute by netting the Owl’s third goal off an assist from Hailey Landrus.
In the first half, FAU held Charlotte to zero goals on only three shot attempts while the Owls scored three goals on eight shot attempts.
“We were not sharp enough in the first half and full credit to Florida Atlantic,” said Cullen.
Freshman midfielder Ashton Mckane sparked Charlotte’s second-half comeback attempt by netting a quick goal in the 47th minute. Senior forward Riley Orr assisted Mckane on the goal.
The McKane-Orr duo continued to produce later in the second half. In the 57th minute, Orr again found Mckane for her second goal of the night, trimming the Owls’ lead to 3-2 with plenty of time left in the game.
Orr continued to facilitate the 49ers’ offense in the second half. In the 69th minute, Orr tallied her third assist of the night as she found freshman forward Ari Maibodi for the game-tying goal.
Despite both teams creating shot opportunities, neither was able to pull ahead before the end of regulation. The game persisted as a defensive stalemate throughout the first overtime period, as both the Owls and 49ers were only able to generate two shot opportunities.
“I am incredibly proud of our response to an indifferent first half,” said Cullen. “To pull it back to 3-3 says a lot about our character and toughness.”
Charlotte’s defense began to give in during the second overtime period and their offense was incapable of creating in shot opportunities. In the 103rd minute, O’Hara found Elisha for the go-ahead golden goal.
After the game, Cullen expressed his gratitude to the 49ers’ senior class for all their sacrifice, commitment and hard work during their time in the Charlotte soccer program.
“We want to say a special thank you to our terrific seniors who have been instrumental in our development as a program on and off the field for their careers here,” said Cullen.