|Georgia State on 49ers' minds as NCAA soccer tournament oppoent|
|Charlotte hosts Panthers in first round match|
|Published Monday, November 12, 2018 3:48 pm|
|PHOTO | SAM ROBERTS|
|Myles Brown and his Charlotte 49ers soccer teammates take on Georgia State in the first round of the NCAA tournament Thursday at 7 p.m. at Transamerica Field.|
The Charlotte 49ers have a date with the NCAA tournament.
They host Sun Belt Conference champion Georgia State (11-6-2) in the first round Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. The Panthers, who won their first Sun Belt tournament, earned their first NCAA postseason berth since 2011.
Charlotte (14-4-1) earned an at-large bid despite losing the Conference USA final 1-0 to Kentucky (17-1-1).
“I am really proud of the guys because we have had a great season this year,” 49ers coach Kevin Langan said. “We are used to knockout opponents, we are battle hardened, and I feel like we are in a good spot. We are really excited for Thursday.”
The 49ers have advanced to the NCAA tournament in six of Langan’s seven years with the program, but never past the second round. Virginia Tech (10-6-3), which earned a first-round bye, hosts the winner in the second round on Nov. 18. The Hokies knocked the 49ers out in the second round of the NCAA tournament in 2016. Charlotte missed last year’s postseason with an 8-5-6 record – Langan’s worst since taking over for Jeremy Gunn in 2012.
“Tournament games have a much different feel than the regular season and it is my job to get the players prepared for it,” Langan said. “The goal in a playoff game is to score one more goal than your opponent. If you play well and win, great, if you play poorly and win, that’s fine, you are still moving on. As you get into those tight games, certain things come up. It is very important how you start the game, how you start the second half, and how you end the second half.”
With the exception of last season’s 25 goals, Charlotte has scored at least 33 per season under Langan, including 41 in 2014, the highest total during his time with the program. The 49ers, who have scored 36 goals and conceded 10 in 2018, have three players with five goals each: strikers Daniel Bruce (a senior who earned Conference USA second team) and Preston Popp (all-freshman and all-tournament teams), and sophomore defender Patrick Hogan. Senior midfielder Tommy Madden, who ranks second in scoring with four goals and five assists, earned all-conference second team. Junior midfielder Teddy Chaouche, who is tied for third in the nation with 10 assists, earned a spot on the all-conference second team and all-tournament team.
Charlotte, which stands 11-1 at home, produced an eight-game winning streak, and did not allow a goal at Transamerica Field for a program-record 1,026 minutes. Junior goalkeeper Elliot Panicco produced 12 clean sheets for the 49ers, and earned the C-USA Golden Glove as the top player at his position. Senior defender Callum Montgomery, who earned Defensive Player of the Year, has three goals and four assists. Defender Delasi Batse earned a place on the all-freshman team.
Charlotte is in the bracket opposite High Point, James Madison and North Carolina, which earned a first round bye. The 49ers hosted the Tar Heels in the 2014 tournament’s first round—a season in which they coincidentally concluded 14-4-1. North Carolina knocked them out 2-1.
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