Charlotte, NC- Donnie Smith scored a dramatic golden goal in the closing minutes of the second overtime giving the fifth-ranked Charlotte 49ers (5-0-1) a 3-2 victory over the South Carolina Gamecocks (2-3-1) before 2,872 people which is the third largest crowd in the program's history. The crowd was the largest to see a regular-season game at Transamerica Field. The 49ers remain undefeated on the season and all four home games this season have gone into double overtime.
"Incredible game of soccer," Charlotte coach Kevin Langan said. "We would take the lead then South Carolina got back in it. Then, we took the lead again and South Carolina tied it again. In the second overtime, Donnie Smith picked the ball up at midfield and drove it down the field and did what he does. He connected on a beautiful left-footed shot that went off the post. This was a game played between two very good teams. We are delighted to get the win."
Smith scored his second goal of the season in dramatic fashion in the 108th minute. Giuseppe Gentile played the ball to Smith at midfield. Smith then drove toward the left corner of the box and blasted a shot from about 18 yards out that banged off the right post into the back of the net.
"You always envision scoring the game-winning goal," Smith said. "On the sideline before the second overtime, I was thinking what I could do to help the team. Giussi gave me a great ball to my left foot. I saw the back stick and hit it as well as I could."
Charlotte scored the game's first goal when Nick Barnhorst connected on a beautiful pass from about 30 yards that drifted toward the far left post. Jennings Rex headed in the cross for his third goal of the season in the 19th minute.
South Carolina quickly tied the score when a Charlotte defender was called for a handball in the box rewarding the Gamecocks with a penalty kick. Bradlee Baladez converted on the penalty kick just 27 seconds after Rex's goal tying the score at 1.
Charlotte regained the lead with a dramatic goal when a shot by Isaac Caughran was headed out by a South Carolina defender. Anthony Perez ran on to the clear out and blasted the ball from about 10 yards out into the back of the net near the left post in the 67th minute. Perez's goal was the first of his career.
South Carolina tied the score at two when Braeden Troyer took a shot from the top of the box that was blocked by a Charlotte defender. Baladez corralled the rebound and put the ball into the lower left corner of the goal from five yards out in the 75th minute.
In the first overtime Charlotte goalkeeper Klay Davis made two spectacular saves keeping the game tied. Davis finished the game with four saves.
"Klay is playing really well," Langan said. "He is catching crosses and dictating the tempo of the game. Tonight, he came up big for us in overtime."
Charlotte finished the game with a 21-11 advantage in shots and a 12-5 advantage in corner kicks. Gentile and Rex led the 49ers with five shots apiece. Smith recorded three shots. Caughran, Tyler Gibson and Aidan Kirkbride tallied two shots apiece.
Charlotte returns to action when they travel to in-state foe UNC Greensboro, Saturday, September 15 at 7 pm.