Charlotte, NC – The nationally-ranked Charlotte 49ers men’s soccer program, which has made 11 appearances in the NCAA Tournament including five straight appearances, posted a perfect 6-0 mark in the spring.
“It was an incredible spring season for us,” Charlotte coach Kevin Langan said. “We lost a lot of players due to graduation from last year’s team so this spring we had a new group of players with a solid group of returning players. The spring season was a big step forward for us.”
The 49ers began their spring season with a 2-1 victory over the United Soccer League’s Charlotte Independence at home, Saturday, March 19. Brandt Bronico and Luke Waechter scored goals for the 49ers. Charlotte’s first goal was a beautiful goal by Bronico, who raced in behind the Independence defenders and chipped the keeper. Independence scored just before halftime. Then, Waechter scored the game-winner off a set piece in the second half.
“The Independence were playing their final friendly before their season started so they played the majority of their starters for 80 minutes,” Langan said. “It was a wonderful challenge for our guys. They are a quality professional team that moved the ball well and asked a lot of questions of our team. However, we stayed on task and had some top performances by new guys. It was a boost for our team after a very challenging winter season.”
Then, Charlotte defeated Furman at home, 2-0, Wednesday, March 23. Bronico scored both of Charlotte’s goals in the final 10 minutes of the match.
“This was another challenging game for us against a perennial NCAA Tournament team in Furman,” Langan said. “It was a back and forth game but we looked to be the side more likely to score. We finally made the breakthrough late in the game. This showed the fitness and strength of the team.”
Charlotte concluded their three-game spring season opening home stand against England’s Pass 4 Soccer Club, Tuesday, March 29. The 49ers defeated Pass 4, 6-0, behind two goals by Daniel Bruce. Zhuvonte Wilson, Matej Dekovic, Max Rodriguez and Dean Rutherford scored the 49ers’ other goals.
“A lot of our players saw action in the game,” Langan said. “It was a total team win with lots of different goals scorers which was good for our team.”
The 49ers played their next two matches on the road. First, the 49ers defeated Davidson on the road, 1-0, behind a goal by Maclean Holbrook, Saturday, April 2.
“It was a wonderfully tough match at Davidson,” Langan said. “The first half we pushed hard but could not make the breakthrough. Early in the second half, Maclean Holbrook scored a composed finish off a beautiful through ball by Bronico. Davidson pushed back hard but Luke Waechter and Callum Montgomery anchored a solid defensive performance by our team.
Then, Charlotte defeated North Carolina, 2-0, in the Kirk Urso Memorial Game in Bryan Park, North Carolina, Saturday, April 9. Newcomer Ryan Spaulding and Holbrook scored the 49ers goals.
“We started the game very well with a great tempo,” Langan said. “We scored just before halftime when Zhuvonte Wilson crossed the ball to Ryan Spaulding, who scored the game’s first goal. We took over the game in the second half. Our second goal came after Brandt Bronico had a shot that was blocked by North Carolina’s goalkeeper and Holbrook scored the rebound. Pleasingly for us as the game went on it looked more likely to become 3-0 than 2-1.
The 49ers concluded the spring season with two home matches. First, Charlotte played former men’s soccer program standouts in the Alumni game, Saturday, April 16.
“It was great to welcome back players that have meant a lot to the tradition and culture of Charlotte 49ers soccer,” Langan said.
Charlotte concluded their spring season against the Charlotte Independence’s reserve team, Saturday, April 23. The 49ers won the game, 2-1, behind goals by Bronico and Waechter.
The 49ers, who return to action in August when the 2016 season starts, will return 17 letterwinners from last season’s NCAA Tournament team.
“The spring was a wonderful spring journey for us,” Langan said. “We got to really develop and become closer as a team. We were really tested at home and on the road by pro teams as well as top college teams. I was very pleased with how our team came together and without a doubt this is a close, fit and dedicated team. We know we have still a lot of work to do but we are excited to take these experiences and training into the fall.”