Charlotte's men's soccer didn't have the start they wanted for the 2021 spring season.
After a 0-0 draw against Duke to open the season, the 49ers dropped two straight games to UNC Wilmington and West Virginia. The slow start to the season is uncharacteristic of a team that went 12-4-4 and won an NCAA tournament game in 2019, the last season Charlotte took the field before this year.
However, it only took one game for Charlotte to get back on track. The 49ers beat Kentucky in overtime, 2-1 on March 6. The Wildcats were ranked #7 at the time, and the win proved to be a turning point.
Charlotte then scored five goals the next two games to pick up a 3-0 win against UAB and then a 2-0 win over South Carolina. The wins put the team back in ranked territory, as the 49ers were ranked #17 in the United Soccer Coaches Poll in late March.
The tide seemed to be turning, but Charlotte's following two games were postponed or canceled due to COVID-19. The FIU (postponed) and Coastal Carolina games (canceled) were affected.
Charlotte didn't miss a beat, though. On April 4, they took the field for the first time in a couple of weeks at Old Dominion. The 49ers received help from familiar faces to win their fourth-straight game, 3-0. Joe Brito, Alex Willis and Preston Popp all scored goals.
"Great result on the road against an always tough opponent," said head coach Kevin Langan.
Coming off a pause, the win was even more impressive as Langan noted.
"Having had the whole program in quarantine for ten days and only two days to train and prepare before we hit the road -- I am so proud of all the players. It took everyone in our program to get us ready. Now we are excited to rest up before we prepare for another great challenge next weekend," he said.
In only his third game this season, goalkeeper Austin Mullins earned his third shutout of the year. His play has been a huge reason why the 49ers sit in a very comfortable spot with only three games left this season.
Charlotte is a perfect 4-0 in conference play but still has a couple of tough tasks ahead. They will take on nationally-ranked (#13) Marshall to end the season on April 18 and face FAU and FIU.
Nonetheless, the 49ers are sitting in a very familiar and comfortable spot.