|Charlotte 49ers eager to make another title run in Conference USA|
|Goal is to win tourney, advance in NCAA|
|Published Friday, August 16, 2019 12:41 pm|
|PHOTO | SAM ROBERTS|
|Delasi Batse and his Charlotte 49ers teammates are looking to improve on their 14-5-2 record in 2018.|
The season cannot begin soon enough for the Charlotte 49ers.
They finished last season 14-5-2, 6-2 in Conference USA before exiting in the second round of the NCAA tournament at Virginia Tech and made program history by not conceding a goal at home for 1,026 minutes, where they went 11-1-1. The 49ers were unbeaten at home until the Conference USA tournament final, where they lost 1-0 to Kentucky.
“We’re desperate to get started,” coach Kevin Langan said. “It seems like an eternity since the guys left in May. Some players we’ve been recruiting for the last two years are now here finally. There’s a lot of anticipation and eagerness just to get started. The key message for the guys is we just want to approach every session the same. We want to go out there and get some good work on Monday, and then turn up on Tuesday and do the same, and turn up on Wednesday and do the same.”
Charlotte is ranked 21st in the nation, but Langan does not put much stock in preseason accolades.
“Preseason awards don’t really bother us too much,” he said. “It’s nice recognition of everything we’ve done up until the moment, but no predictor of the season, no predictor of tomorrow.”
Charlotte traditionally produces strong center back pairings, with alumni like Callum Montgomery and Luke Waechter going on to play professionally. After Waechter’s departure in 2016, Charlotte struggled to find a dynamic duo and missed the 2017 NCAA tournament. They found a prolific pair in Montgomery and then sophomore Patrick Hogan, who proved dangerous in both boxes. The question in 2019 becomes who steps in at center back alongside Hogan. The junior indicated his new partner is sophomore right back Delasi Batse, leaving an opening at right back for newcomer Jaxson Watermann to fill. Sophomore
Ethan Sawdon is another possible candidate, with Luke Johnson and Noah Seach filling in at left back.
Senior goalkeeper Elliot Panicco is the one position without question. He spent the summer training with MLS clubs Atlanta United, D.C. United and Minnesota United, spending roughly a week with each.
“It was a great experience getting to train with the professionals this summer,” Panicco said. “I really learned a lot from them, got some good training in, and I’m just looking to bring what I learned into the season this year.”
Senior midfielder Teddy Chaouche pulls the strings in the center of the park for Charlotte. His goal remains to lead the nation in assists.
“During the summer I just worked hard, tried to be as fit as possible, but for me, the team needs to succeed,” Chaouche said. “We talked with the boys, and this is going to be a championship year. This program hasn’t won anything in the last two years. For the boys and the staff, it has to be a championship year.”
Send this page to a friend