|Charlotte 49ers soccer prepares for winter training, uncertainty|
|After a pair of exhibitions, season gets underway|
|Published Monday, January 11, 2021 7:20 pm|
|PHOTO | LEROY HARDEN|
|The Charlotte 49ers soccer team, which returns to campus this week, hasn't recorded a coronavirus infection during 16 weeks of testing. Training starts on Jan. 12, with an exhibition Jan. 26 against Virginia Commonwealth.|
The perennially nationally ranked program’s season was moved from the fall to the spring due to COVID-19. Their 30 players and staff did not experience a single positive COVID-19 case during 16 weeks of testing by creating a low-risk outside environment. They did not use the locker room, and they took the weight room outside.
“We were really deliberate with our training and our work with the players,” coach Kevin Langan said. “I personally thanked them and said, ‘I have never been as proud of a group of young men in my life.’”
For 16 weeks, the 49ers competed against themselves and the coaching staff tried to simulate game-like situations, whether it was officiating decisions or playing short-handed or a goal down.
“They are very hard to replicate in training, but we tried our best,” Langan said. “We were very deliberate with trying to overload the players with those mental, competitive skills that you need. How do you come back from being behind? What do you do when you’re losing the game?”
With players arriving on campus this week, their attention shifts toward the season. They will test on Jan. 11, with training beginning on Jan. 12, pending results. Their first test comes in an exhibition against Virginia Commonwealth on Jan. 26, which the 49ers will host. Charlotte will travel to Mecklenburg County rival Davidson for an exhibition on Jan. 30. The regular season schedule has yet to be released.
“Then we are rolling into a game a week for the next 10 weeks with maybe two midweek games,” Langan said. “We will go from out of conference to in-conference. We have been very deliberate that we have split the season into two. Hopefully come April 17, we will be competing for the conference regular season trophy, and hopefully getting a call up to the NCAA tournament.”
It will be a unique season for the 49ers, but Langan is confident they’re up for the challenge.
“We have shown that we can be a group that is trusted and stays out of trouble,” he said. “We watched a lot of college games go on around us, which was very, very tough for us, and now we are just waiting to get started ourselves.”
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