The Charlotte 49ers women's soccer team will host the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers on Thursday at Transamerica Field in the regular-season finale. The 49ers are riding high as they hope to extend their current win streak as the Conference USA (C-USA) tournament draws near.
"Looking forward to it," said Head Coach John Cullen. "This is the last conference game of the season; we get to play at home. I think the prediction of the weather isn't going to be great, but it's college soccer you have got to play in all sorts of conditions."
Charlotte is coming into this match following a 2-0 victory over Marshall, while Western Kentucky will try to snap a current two-game losing streak against the 49ers.
The Hilltoppers currently sit in second place of the East division of C-USA with a record of 5-2 in conference play and 10-4 overall. The 49ers are in fifth place in the C-USA East division, with a 3-2-2 record in conference play and 7-5-2 overall.
Second-year midfielder Piper Biziorek is a pivotal player to watch for the 49ers. She leads the team in scoring with five goals while also having two assists on the season. She has also started in 13 of Charlotte's 14 games played this season, so keep an eye out for Biziorek to play a critical role in Thursday's game.
Fifth-year goalie Abby Stapleton is another key player for Charlotte as she has been huge for the 49ers in goal this year. Stapleton is second in all-time goalie wins and shutouts for the team over her five years in the program. However, she will need to step up on the defensive side of the ball if the 49ers hope to come out on top.
For Western Kentucky, third-year forward Katie Erwin will be a significant offensive contributor for the Hilltoppers in the match. Erwin leads the team in points with 12, including four goals and four assists so far. The 49ers will try to keep her contained in the contest.
Key to a 49ers Victory:
One of the primary keys for a Charlotte victory over Western Kentucky is to win the time of possession battle, leading to more ball control. If the 49ers can do this, the team will have a good shot of getting the win.
The second key for the 49ers is to push the issue on the offensive side of the ball. The team will look to gain control early and often to take the pressure off the defense. If the 49ers can continue to take smart shots, it will lead to success.
"Western Kentucky is a great team; we've played them recently in the spring with two great tough matches. We expect tomorrow (Thursday) to be a tough match as well," said Cullen. "Our objective tomorrow (Thursday) night is trying to get everybody a run-out, stay healthy, still keep a very competitive team on the field; we want to try to win if at all possible to keep the momentum going."
The 49ers and the Hilltoppers first played in 2014, with Charlotte winning 3-0. Both teams have played each other a combined eight times in the series.
Charlotte leads the series 5-2-1 all-time against Western Kentucky and will look to add to that total on Thursday. The 49ers won the last matchup 2-0 in the C-USA tournament on April 15, 2021.
About the Contest:
The 49ers will host the Hilltoppers at Transamerica field, and the match will kick off at 7 p.m on Thursday, Oct. 28. The contest will be a green out, and there will be a Charlotte beanie giveaway. The match will also be watchable on ESPN+.