CHARLOTTE, N.C. - On goals from three different players, the Charlotte 49ers men's soccer team eliminated the Furman Paladins, 3-1, in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night at Transamerica Field. The Niners (14-4-2; 6-1-2 A-10) advance to the Second Round, where they will face UAB in Birmingham on Sunday at 7 p.m.
"We took care of it when it counted tonight," said head coach Jeremy Gunn following the game. "We've played fantastic playoff games in the past, and tonight we were finally able to get the ball in the back of the net. Our players have to be excited for the way they played; they all performed very well tonight."
T.J. Beaulieu's goal in the 68th minute gave the 49ers their first lead of the game, a 2-1 advantage over the Paladins. Beaulieu, tallying his second of the season, used some nice footwork to work his way through traffic in the box. He settled the ball before drilling a shot past the Furman keeper Cann into the back left corner of the net from 10 yards out.
"There was a loose ball in the box, and I was able to collect it and get a quick turn in the box," Beaulieu said to describe his goal. "We're happy tonight, but we need to get back our focus and get ready for Sunday."
Furman struck first, taking a 1-0 lead in the 19th minute on an unassisted goal by Martin Ontiveros, his sixth of the season. Ontiveros scored on a free kick from the top of the 18 yard box, sending a shot over the heads of defenders and into the top corner of the net.
Charlotte retaliated 10 minutes later, as Gentile tallied his eighth of the season for the equalizer. Charles Rodriguez began the play with a free kick from a few yards outside the 18 yard box. His ball sailed down to the far side of the field near the goal, where Thomas Allen tipped it to Gentile, who put it in just under the crossbar.
The two teams went into the half tied 1-1, with Charlotte holding a 7-6 edge in shots. But the Niners came out looking fantastic in the second half, scoring the go-ahead marker and adding a security goal in the 84th minute. Jennings Rex's shot from 15 yards out, off a pass from Beaulieu, gave the 49ers a 3-1 lead.
The Niners held a commanding 7-3 advantage in second half shots and a 2-1 edge in corners in the half. In the game, Charlotte led 14-9 in shots and 4-1 in corners. Gentile led the squad with five shots, while Beaulieu and Rex tallied two apiece.
In goal, Klay Davis made three saves, picking up his 14th win of the season.
Charlotte advances to the second round of the tourney for the first time since 1996. The Niners will travel to UAB for a 7 p.m. match on Sunday, November 20th.