Charlotte drops their second game in a row, this time to undefeated 12th ranked South Carolina. The 49ers were looking to bounce back, but the Gamecocks were too much to handle as they would win 4-1.
"We played an excellent team tonight in South Carolina who I'm sure will once again go on to challenge for titles this season," said head coach John Cullen.
In the first seven minutes, two goals for the Gamecocks were a big confidence blow for the 49ers and quickly made winning significantly harder. The Gamecock's first goal to get them on the board was in the 46th second from graduate student Luciana Zullo; this would be the second-fastest goal in program history. Junior Eveleen Hahn scored South Carolina's second goal in the seventh minute, putting the 49ers in a hole early on.
The 49ers cut the lead by putting a goal in the back of the net in the 22nd minute. Sophomore midfielder Piper Biziorek scored the goal, and freshman Macey Bader assisted it. The Niners held the Gamecocks to just one shot for the rest of the first half while taking two shots of their own, but none reached the back of the net to be the equalizer.
The Gamecocks came out of the halftime break firing at all cylinders. South Carolina looked to capitalize quickly in the second half as they did in the first, getting a shot off in just 45 seconds but this time failed to score. However, both teams were persistent, taking multiple shots each as well as looking for an advantage.
Just before the 77th-minute mark, the Gamecocks sophomore Corina Zullo scored the third goal to extend their lead to 3-1 over the Niners. With the game approaching its end, the Gamecocks scored a fourth this time off of the leg of freshman midfielder Lily Render to solidify their victory.
"From our perspective, the opening phases of the game and late stages of the game is where it got away from us. For 70 minutes, there were some really good moments and bright, positive soccer. We have to learn how important the opening phase of a game is and getting a foothold in an away match against a high level nationally ranked team," said Cullen. "Our response to the early setback was brilliant to see from our players as we collectively grew into the match, but the lessons have to be learned how to start with better intensity and then build into the game."
Charlotte returns home to TransAmerica field on Thursday, Sept. 9th, at 6 p.m. for a showdown with the College of Charleston, who currently sit at 1-4-1 on the season. These two have faced off four times, and in all the matchups, the 49ers came out victorious. Therefore, the optimism is high in what could be a bounce-back victory.
"We will take all the positives from the performance, and at the same time to learn moving forward; we will address the crucial phases of the game and be much better for this experience this evening. We will regroup and go again and look forward to playing in front of Niner nation again on Thursday night!" said Cullen.