The Charlotte 49er men's soccer team picked up their first win of the season with a 2-1 upset overtime victory over the seventh-ranked Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday night. Preston Popp scored the game-winner just four minutes into overtime.
"Extremely proud of the players," said Head Coach Kevin Langan after the game. "We went down early but stood strong and worked our way back into the game. To win in overtime is just a great feeling."
Kentucky opened the game with an early goal in the fifth minute. Daniel Evans scored his fourth goal of the season, volleying the ball and beating the 49er goalkeeper. Charlotte matched their goal in the 41st minute when the ball was sent into the box from the corner. Kentucky's goalkeeper, Ryan Troutman, couldn't control the ball, causing the ball to bounce around before Alex Willis sent the ball into the back of the net to tie the game.
The second half was a defensive battle between both teams. Charlotte failed to get a shot on target, while Kentucky only managed two shots, which Daniel Kuzemka saved. Popp had the last shot attempt in the second half, but it was blocked by the defense, causing the game to go to overtime.
Overtime wouldn't last long as just 4:05 into the extra period, Popp scored the game-winning goal on the road. After a long pass from Joe Brito, the ball was crossed into the goal area by Ethan Sawdon, and before Kentucky could get a handle on it, Willis passed the ball to Popp, who had an open look in front of the net.
"To have four players all of the same mind and all sharing the ball is fantastic. Certainly a goal worthy to win any game," said Coach Langan.
Charlotte finished with a 9-7 shot advantage, but both teams finished with three shots on target. No player for either team finished with more than two shot attempts.
Charlotte moves to a 1-2-1 record with the early win and has now won against a ranked opponent in three consecutive seasons.
"This gives us great confidence," said Coach Langan. "Hopefully, this will propel us as we attack the conference season."
Charlotte returns to the pitch on Saturday, March 13, when the Niners face the UAB Blazers on Transamerica Field. Game time is set for 2 p.m.