|Charlotte heads out of town for conference opener|
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Charlotte women’s soccer team will take its 5-3 record on the road this weekend to start Conference USA competition, meeting up with a first-time opponent Friday at FIU and a longtime in-state foe East Carolina Sunday. The matches against the Panthers and Pirates are slated for 7 p.m. and 2 p.m., respectively.
The 49ers are coming off a weekend in which they split their two contests, picking up a 6-0 home triumph over College of Charleston Friday before falling 1-0 in double overtime Sunday at Davidson. The six-goal outburst was the most by the team since it also tallied a half dozen in a Sept. 25, 2012, victory over Francis Marion.
Junior Jessica Ryan is the Niners’ leading scorer with four goals, though classmate Amanda Jones, a preseason Conference USA Player to Watch, is right on her heels with three. Of the eight different players to score this fall, helping Charlotte outscore its opponents 13-7, the pair is the only two with more than one goal.
Defensively, the 49ers have limited the opposition to a goal or less in six of the eight matches. The stout play in the back third has helped Charlotte accumulate a goals-against average of 0.84 and post four shutouts, including Friday’s clean sheet against the Cougars.
FIU, based out of Miami, is competing in its first season as a Conference USA member. The Panthers, under the direction of Thomas Chestnutt, are 2-6 this fall and have lost three-straight matches entering Friday, all on the road.
The program, which reached the 2011 NCAA Tournament after winning the Sun Belt Tournament, has been outscored 20-to-8 in 2013, with Madlen Weinhardt and Ashleigh Shim netting a combined six of the eight goals. Paula Zuluaga and Vanessa Plasencia have shared the goalkeeping duties.
Friday’s match will pit the 49ers against the Panthers for the first time. Charlotte is 10-4-2 all-time against opponents from the Sunshine State.
Upon returning from Miami, the Niners stay in-state to face East Carolina for the first time as a conference opponent since a 2-0 home triumph Sept. 24, 2004. The two teams have squared off in four games since then with Charlotte leading the all-time series 7-2-1 after a 1-0 road victory last fall.
The Pirates, who begin their C-USA slate with a Friday home tilt with Colorado College, enter the weekend with a 3-4-2 mark. They have dropped a pair of back-to-back 1-0 decisions on the road since a 3-0 home win against Francis Marion Sept. 13.
Head coach Rob Donnenwirth’s squad has outscored its opponents 11-to-9, with Kelsey Reeves and Stephanie Seagrave leading the charge with two goals apiece. Saundra Baron has played the majority of the minutes between the pipes, registering a 0.94 goals-against average and 41 saves through her team’s first nine contests.
Live video and stats will be available for both contests, linked through Charlotte49ers.com. Updates can also be found on Twitter by following @49erGameDay.