|Kentucky tops Charlotte soccer 1-0 in Conference USA final|
|No. 14 49ers await NCAA tournament bid|
|Published Sunday, November 11, 2018 4:02 pm|
Charlotte 49ers soccer lost the Conference USA tournament final for the second consecutive season.
Top seed Kentucky, No. 3 in the nation, beat third seed and No. 14 Charlotte 1-0 Sunday at Transamerica Field for their first tournament title. C-USA Offensive Player of the Year and tournament MVP J.J. Williams, a junior striker who leads the conference with 16 goals, scored the game-winner early in the second half, despite Charlotte’s 12-3 shot advantage at halftime. The 49ers ultimately outshot Kentucky 19-8.
The Wildcats (17-1-1), who beat Charlotte in the regular season 1-0 at Kentucky, are one of three teams to do so against the 14-4-1 49ers, along with Old Dominion and Radford. Charlotte, which last won the tournament in 2013, lost 1-0 to Old Dominion in the 2017 final, which combined with an 8-5-6 campaign did not secure an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. It marked the first in seven years Charlotte did not reach that level of the postseason.
“If you asked me that question a year ago, I would say there is absolutely no doubt that we are in the tournament, but after last year, I don’t know what the selection committee are going to do,” 49ers coach Kevin Langan said.
The NCAA tournament selection announcement of the 48-team field is Nov. 12 at noon. Conference tournament champions, 24 in all, earn automatic bids, with a tournament committee selecting at-large teams. The top 16 seeds receive a first round bye. First round games take place on Nov. 15, with the second round on Nov. 18. The tournament concludes Dec. 7-9 in Santa Barbara, California.
Langan is hesitant to predict an at-large bid for the 49ers, despite their regular season success. Charlotte went 11-1 at home, produced an eight-game winning streak, and did not allow a goal at Transamerica Field for 1,026 minutes – a program record.
“Like I said last year, I’ll be astonished if we are not in it. I’ll be astonished if we are not in it again,” Langan said. “We have had a great season, a great record. Some unbelievable records have been broken. Last year we were shocked [not to be in the tournament]. I could be shocked again tomorrow.”
Three 49ers made the all-tournament team: Freshman striker Preston Popp, who scored two goals during the tournament, senior defender Callum Mongtomgery and junior midfielder Teddy Chaouche.
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