|Charlotte set to open Atlantic 10 Championships|
KINGSTON, R.I. - The Charlotte 49ers women's soccer team will begin its quest for a third Atlantic 10 Tournament title at the league tournament, starting at 11 a.m. Thursday against La Salle, in Kingston, R.I. The Niners earned the No. 8 seed in the event and will face the regular-season champion and top-seeded Explorers in the quarterfinal contest at the URI Soccer Complex.
Charlotte is 7-5 all-time in the Atlantic 10 Championships, having claimed the 2007 and 2008 crowns en route to the third and fourth NCAA Tournament appearances in program history. The 49ers have faced La Salle only once previously in the tournament, picking up a 3-1 victory in the 2010 semifinals.
Dayton has eliminated the Niners in each of the last three tournaments but the only way for the two programs to meet this year will be in the championship clash Sunday.
Charlotte finished its regular season with a 10-7-2 overall and 4-4-1 ledger, making the tournament field due to tiebreakers. It earned a three-way tie with Massachusetts and Richmond for the final two spots, with the Spiders staying at home because of the tiebreaking rules.
The 49ers and Explorers met in regular-season play with La Salle tallying a 2-1 win in Philadelphia Oct. 14.
Charlotte will put four All-Atlantic 10 performers on the field for the contest, including Second Team honoree Amanda Jones. Maddie Kiebel was selected to the All-Rookie Team, while Alex Kubrick and Sarah Ann Waugh were tabbed to the All-Academic Team.
La Salle concluded the regular season with a tie against Temple but still won the regular-season championship with its 8-0-1 mark. The Explorers were 14-4-1 overall, earning national votes and the top spot in the NSCAA Mid-Atlantic Poll.
Eight all-league spots were reserved for La Salle plus the conference's Defensive Player of the Year (Courtney Niemiec) and Coach of the Year (Paul Royal).
The winner of the match will face the victor in the other semifinal on that side of the bracket, a meeting between No. 4 seed Butler and No. 5 seed St. Bonaventure.
Free live video and live stats are available through links on Charlotte49ers.com, while in-game updates will also be provided on Twitter @49erGameDay.