In the first round of the Conference USA (C-USA) Tournament at Transamerica Field, the Charlotte men's soccer team fell 5-3 on penalty kicks to the Florida Atlantic (FAU) Owls on Wednesday, Nov. 10. The 49ers, eliminated from the C-USA Championships, can still receive a berth in the NCAA tournament.
The game was tied at the end of regulation, with neither team getting on the scoreboard. At the end of regulation and both overtime periods, the Owls had four shots while the 49ers had 12. With the disappointing result of the game, Head Coach Kevin Langan expressed his thoughts on how the team could have improved.
"[We could've improved by] just playing with intensity, with urgency, be us and everything we've trained for," said Langan. "Understand the importance of the moment, take our chances, as poor as we were, we still should've won the game handily...You want this moment to show everything we've done, and it just didn't tonight."
Before this most recent loss, the 49ers held a nine-game winning streak against the Owls, dating from Oct. 30, 2013, to Oct. 16, 2021. In the 11 games the 49ers have faced the Owls, they have won nine, setting the two teams' matchup record at 9-1-1. Charlotte's only loss against FAU was in their first matchup on Sept. 14, 2003.
Senior Alex Willis reflected on how special this season has been for him and the team.
"We've had ups and downs throughout the season, but we've stuck together through all of them," Willis said. "We've taken very good teams down to the wire. We beat No.5 Kentucky at the team and took No.1, Marshall, to overtime. It's been really enjoyable playing with the boys, and they're a great group of lads, and we were good mates after the pitch, and I guess for the younger guys, and the boys coming back learn from this and remember it and try to do better next season."
The game stood at a standstill within the midfield for much of the first half. The teams went back and forth, trying to gain control throughout the half. Florida Atlantic's Pontus Steffenson recorded the first shot of the game at the 17:56 mark.
The squads made several good plays, but ultimately, both teams struggled to create strong scoring chances. The first half ended scoreless as the Owls had only two shots, while the 49ers had four.
The game remained scrappy throughout the second half, and the intensity was high. The 49ers had possession late in the second half and were looking for a way to notch one on the scoreboard with regulation time coming to a close.
Junior Jaxson Watermann fired a shot to the net off a corner kick which struck the post with just seconds remaining in the second half, sending the teams into their first overtime period of the night. The 49ers fought for a goal but were unable to score on six shots.
Charlotte looked to generate chances in both overtime periods but found no luck against FAU's backline. The 49ers only mustered two scoring chances in both extra periods.
When it came down to penalty kicks, Charlotte's three out of four shots found the way into the back of the net. FAU hit the mark on all five to secure the victory and face Marshall on Friday.
Charlotte looks to place within the NCAA Tournament to further their play within the postseason. The D1 selection show takes place on Monday, Nov. 15, at 1 p.m. on NCAA.com.