Charlotte, NC- Behind goals by Thomas Allen and Giuseppe Gentile and another stellar defensive effort, the 11th-ranked Charlotte 49ers (13-2-2, A-10: 7-1-1) defeated George Washington (5-13-0, A-10: 2-7), 2-1, to capture the Atlantic 10 regular-season title. The 49ers have won the Atlantic 10 regular-season title twice in the last three years.
The 49ers will be the top seed at next week's Atlantic 10 Tournament which will be played at Charlotte's Transamerica Field, November 8-11.
"We started the game off with a great deal of momentum," Charlotte coach Kevin Langan said. "We scored an early goal and it looked like we would score several more. George Washington scored on a penalty kick after a tussle in the box which set us back on our heels a little bit. We settled down at halftime and were relentless offensively in the second half. We scored a beautiful goal after a great pass from Isaac Caughran and a beautiful finish by Giuseppe. I was pleased with our performance and the mental toughness we showed tonight."
The game-winning goal began when Aidan Kirkbride passed the ball from just at the top of the box to Caughran down on the right side of the field just inside the box near the end line. Caughran one timed the ball to Gentile who ran onto the ball and put it in the back of the net from 10 yards out in the 85th minute. Gentile's goal was his eighth of the season and the 18th of his career.
Charlotte scored the game's first goal when Tyler Gibson took a free kick from about 25 yards out. Gibson nearly scored on the free kick but his shot banged off the far right post. Allen ran onto the ball and put the ball into the lower right corner of the goal in the fifth minute. Allen's goal was his second of the season and the fourth of his career.
George Washington tied the score at one when Kirkbride was called for a foul in the box causing the penalty kick. George Washington's Seth Rudolph converted on the penalty kick for his seventh goal of the season in the 19th minute.
The 49ers defense behind the play of goalkeeper Klay Davis and defenders Allen, David Mayer, Anthony Perez, Aaron Weldon and Biko Bradnock-Brennan was stellar again tonight. The 49ers have only allowed two goals both of them off penalty kicks in their last eight games.
The 49ers dominated the run of play for a majority of the game. Charlotte finished the game with a 22-4 advantage in shots including an 11-0 advantage in shots in the second half. Charlotte also enjoyed a 10-1 advantage in corner kicks. Gentile led the 49ers with seven shots. While, Jennings Rex tallied four shots. Gibson added two shots to the 49ers attack.
Charlotte returns to action in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 Tournament at Transamerica Field, Thursday, November 8 at 8 pm. The tournament field will not be announced until tomorrow so the 49ers are not sure who they will face in the quarterfinals.