Men's Soccer to Host Radford in First Round of NCAA Tournament Thursday
By: Charlotte Sports Information
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Charlotte men's soccer team will make its 11th appearance all-time in the NCAA Tournament, as revealed by the association Monday afternoon. The 49ers will host Big South regular-season champion Radford on Thursday, Nov. 19, at Transamerica Field. Game time is TBA.
"Now we know what's ahead of us and it's exciting and great for us to play at home," head coach Kevin Langan said. "To have the chance to play on our familiar field, with our familiar fans, with the great senior group we have with the leadership they've shown, is exciting."
Thursday will mark the Niners fifth-straight NCAA Tournament, dating back to 2011 when they reached the College Cup Championship game. It will also be Coach Langan’s fourth straight tournament appearance, the most in Charlotte coaching history. The 49ers have played in the Tournament in six of the last seven seasons, and also appeared in the 1996 College Cup.
"We've always done a good job focusing on the next game at hand, and we've always played as if we're playing a Cup final," junior midfielder and 2015 All-C-USA Second Team selection Max Rodriguez said. "There's just more on the line. We just need to keep doing the things we've been doing, learn from our mistakes, and grow as a team. We believe in ourselves, and the coaches believe in us, and we just have to keep going off of that."
Charlotte last faced Radford in August of 2014, taking a 2-1 victory in its home opener. The Highlanders enter the match coming off a semifinal loss to High Point in the Big South Tournament, but bring a 14-3-2 overall record.
The Niners come into the contest on a 10-5-3 slate, led by Conference USA Offensive MVP of the Year senior forward Kyle Parker, who led the squad and the league in goals (12) and points (27), and junior midfielder First Team All-C-USA selection Brandt Bronico, who holds a team and conference leading nine assists, while adding seven goals and 23 total points. The strong play of the 49er defense collected eight shutouts, including four in a row from Oct. 16 to Oct. 27, and was second in C-USA with a stellar 0.69 goals-against-average.
"It's very exciting for us, because we came into today not exactly knowing what our fate was going to be," redshirt junior defender Luke Waechter said. "Being able to be at home and play in front of our fans again is going to be great, and that's what we're looking forward to."
"It's very important for the fans to come out and support us," Langan added. "We need the vocal support; we want them to feel like this is their team and we want them to feel proud of us. We want to be a team that the school and the community can get behind us.”
The winner of Thursday's contest will advance to face the No. 1 seed in the tournament, Wake Forest, on Sunday in Winston-Salem, N.C.