The Charlotte women's soccer team fell short to the Florida Atlantic Owls in penalty kicks in the first round of the Conference USA Championships on Monday, Nov. 1. The loss eliminated the team and ended their season. However, the 49ers will take lessons learned into next season.
The match was tied 2-2 at the end of regulation, and after two overtime periods, penalty kicks were needed to determine the winner. FAU held onto win 5-4 in penalty kicks and moved onto the tournament's second round.
"Always a tough way to lose a tournament match in the anguish of PKs," said Head Coach John Cullen. "We didn't play with the quality we've shown recently. We felt we rushed too many decisions on the ball tonight and had too misplaced passes or loose balls. But we kept fighting and working for one another."
The 49ers did not have the ideal start to the match as FAU got on the board first at the 12:01 mark. Fourth-year forward Miracle Porter scored off of a cross into the goal area from fourth-year midfielder Sammy Vitols to take the early 1-0 lead.
The 49ers had three shots in the half but were unable to finish any of the opportunities. The team only managed to create one shot on target in the first half.
The 49ers had a much better start to the second half. The team tied the game at the 49:59 mark goal to even things. After FAU failed to clear the ball properly, second-year midfielder Piper Biziorek took a volley to score the goal for Charlotte.
The match was even for about four minutes. Then, at the 53:16 mark, the Owls were awarded a penalty kick after second-year midfielder Paige Rosenfield was called for a handball. FAU senior midfielder Emma Grissom stepped up to convert the penalty kick, and the Owls led once again 2-1.
The 49ers responded at the 63:32 mark when Biziorek connected a pass to senior forward Haley Shand inside the penalty area. Shand beat two defenders and placed the shot past FAU freshman goalkeeper Amit Cohen.
The two overtime periods were even on both sides. Creating goal-scoring opportunities was scarce, but the Owls created four shots while the 49ers had two shots in the periods.
Penalty Kick Shootout:
The shootout required more than the traditional five kicks to decide who would advance. After each team's attempts, the match was even 3-3. On the six-round of the shootout, both teams converted to keep even and extend it.
In the seventh round, FAU forward Mia Sennes converted her penalty kick, while the 49ers, backup goalie Emma Wakeman, had her attempt saved by Cohen to win the match for the Owls.
Post Match Reaction:
The team fought to the end but came up short in the contest. Nevertheless, the 49ers will continue to grow their program and use the loss as fuel. The loss concludes for Charlotte, but the team has great promise. The team is ready to get back on the field to perfect their craft, as they expect most of the roster to be back in 2022.
"Knowing our team, we will get back to work early next week after a few days off," said Cullen. "The players will be in the gym, out on the practice field, and putting the work in to improve individually and collectively. The
new season and preparations towards that season start next week."