Charlotte, N.C.- After winning the 2013 Conference USA Championship yesterday the excitement continued on for the Charlotte 49ers men’s soccer program.
The 49ers men’s soccer team gathered in a conference room on campus to watch the selection show. The team erupted when their name was called grabbing a first round bye and the thirteenth seed in the 2013 NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship.
Charlotte was one of three Conference USA programs to be selected. Regular season champion New Mexico also received a first round bye and the number seven seed. Old Dominion, who finished second during the regular season, grabbed a selection in the tournament but will play a familiar foe Drexel from their days in the Colonial Athletic in the first round.
Charlotte has made the NCAA tournament the past three seasons and fourth time in the past five. The 49ers have made the NCAA tournament for the ninth time. This is the first time in program history that the Niners have made the postseason three or more times consecutively. This is only the second time in program history that the 49ers have been seeded. “It is an unbelievable feeling to be seeded. It is the first time since I have been here that we received a bye in the first round,” said senior Aidan Kirkbride. Charlotte received one of the four National seeds in 1994.
The current Charlotte roster features 16 players that have postseason experience. Klay Davis, Biko Bradnock-Brennan, Thomas Allen, Will Mayhew, Giuseppe Gentile, Aidan Kirkbride, Tyler Gibson, Nick Hensley, Nick Barnhorst, Robby Thomas, Anthony Perez, Kyle Parker, Jeremy Dennis and Austin Pack were on the 49er roster last season for the postseason. David Mayer and Dominic Bonilla were also on the 49er roster last season for postseason but also competed against the 49ers in 2011. Mayer and Bonilla transferred from the University of Akron. “We have one of the most experienced senior classes in the nation.”
Charlotte made its first appearance in the tournament in 1991 with an at-large bid and enjoyed a trip the following year. Charlotte missed the postseason in 1993 but made the postseason in 1994, when they were seeded a program-best fourth.
The 49ers would grab its first NCAA tournament win in 1996 over College of Charleston. That season the Niners would also defeat Notre Dame and Hartford to advance to the NCAA National Semifinals in Richmond, Va.. In 1997, Charlotte would make the tournament again but were knocked out by Clemson in the first round.
Charlotte found its way back into the tournament in 2009 but was eliminated by UNC Wilmington on PKs. The Niners fought back to the College Cup Finals in 2011 before losing to North Carolina. Charlotte made the postseason last season but lost to College Cup Finalist Georgetown.
Gentile leads the 49ers into the postseason with the all-time leading scorer in Charlotte history during the postseason. Gentile and former Niner Jennings Rex have accounted for nine points in the postseason. Both Gentile and Rex have scored four goals and tallied one assist. Tyler Gibson is on the list tied for seventh with three points. Gibson has one goal and one assist in the postseason. Kirkbride and Thomas Allen are tied for 14th with one point, tallying one assist.
Charlotte awaits the winner of Coastal Carolina and East Tennessee State. Charlotte defeated Coastal Carolina earlier in the season in Conway, S.C. 2-1. Coastal Carolina was ranked #12 at the time. The 49ers has not played ETSU officially during the program’s history but has scheduled them during the offseason. “The two teams that we could face, we know they are really good teams. We just have to work all week to prepare for Sunday,” said Kirkbride.
Charlotte will play the winner on Sunday, November 24th. The game time has now been set at 7 p.m.