Men's soccer review

The Charlotte men's soccer team celebrates after a win over Gardner Webb.

The Charlotte men's soccer season left little in the way of certainty until the very end. From a solid start to a razor-thin conclusion, there were triumphs and travails on the way to the championship contest.

A string of victories

When Charlotte first came to the pitch, they looked ready to go for it all. 

The 49ers started the season with back-to-back victories in exhibition matches against the University of Virginia and the University of South Carolina Upstate. Both teams finished with 0.667 and 0.500 records in games on the season, respectively. 

With victories against comparable or superior opponents under their belts, Charlotte's crew seemed to have what it took to win.

Then, Charlotte won the next seven games in a row.

The Connecticut Huskies fell first, 3-1, and then Gardner-Webb 4-0. After that, the 49ers would shut out the next four games, getting three or more goals in each. 

Charlotte's Head Coach Kevin Langan earned his laurels against Detroit Mercy. The 49ers' victory in the contest resulted in his 118th win, more than any coach in Charlotte men's soccer history. 

The 49ers began the American Athletic Conference (AAC) season on Sept. 17 against the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Blazers. 

Charlotte kept up the pressure, beating the Blazers 3-0 in a victory covering every metric imaginable – fewer fouls and cards, more shots and more goals. 

A few days later, Coastal Carolina fell to the 49ers 6-1 in the seventh consecutive victory for the Green and White on the season. They had not achieved this since 2011 when Charlotte came second in the NCAA Tournament.

Conference contest challenges

Eight games remained in the season, comprising the conference leg for the 49ers. 

The momentum that Charlotte had built began to slow. Against Tulsa, the 49ers could not find a single goal – their first loss of the season and their only shutout.

Fights against Memphis and Florida Atlantic saw both sides draw even, neither able to gain the upper hand. After going undefeated for the first half of the season, Charlotte's conference matches quickly turned against them with a 1-1-2 record. 

When the last match against Temple came, Charlotte was outside the top six that would go to the championship. To have a chance, they would need to win and two higher seeds to lose.

With a 5-1 victory and a fair bit of luck, the 49ers got what they needed to take their challenge to Orlando, Fla., for the AAC title.

In the conference championship, Charlotte fell to the University of South Florida 2-1, bringing the 49er season to an abrupt end.

The Charlotte crew

The mixed ending to the season could not take away from the solid performances of those 49ers on the field.

Senior Kameron Lacey made his mark in perhaps his final year for the team. Lacey scored 11 more points than second-best sophomore Filip Jauk, earning only a single card during the season. 

As a team member since 2019, it was this season where Lacey played his best, ending his tenure on a high note and having an indelible impact on the team's victories this year.

Underclassmen shined this season, as Jauk and juniors Matthew Kirk and Jonathan Nyandjo filled up three-fifths of the team's offensive metrics. On the defense, redshirt junior Thomas Wallis held the line for over a thousand minutes on the season to save the 49ers 41 times. 

Lacey's nine goals and seven assists earned him First Team All-American Honors. 

Senior defender Sean Suber followed Lacey's example with a Second Team All-Conference nod. 

Freshmen Brad Dildy and Samy Kolby were named to the All-Rookie Team. 

Charlotte may not have come out on top, but players like that, and the everlasting records they helped to achieve, are worth remembering as Charlotte men's soccer looks onward toward next year's challenge.