|Niners respond to force East Division tie|
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Charlotte played a solid 65 minutes after trailing by a pair at halftime, including netting two goals during the second half, to force a 2-2 draw against Middle Tennessee Sunday afternoon in a matchup of Conference USA East Division leaders. The tie was the first for the 49ers since a 1-1 result at Massachusetts Oct. 19, 2012.
Charlotte (7-4-1, 2-1-1 C-USA), who had just five shots in the opening 45 minutes, put its first goal on the board when junior Amanda Jones sent a long pass from a left-flanking position onto sophomore Maddie Kiebel. Kiebel then found herself alone behind the Blue Raiders defense and with a 1v1 situation with Middle Tennessee (5-4-3, 2-1-1 C-USA) goalkeeper Kelsey Brouwer. Kiebel poked a low shot past Brower at 57:59 to pull the Niners within one, 2-1.
The 49ers kept pushing forward and were able to net the equalizer just under seven minutes later, at 64:48, when senior Dakota Olson made a long run down the right side before crossing across to Jones. The Preseason Conference Player to Watch one-touched the pass towards the MT cage. The shot hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced just over the goal line, earning a goal signal from the referees.
Charlotte had numerous other chances to find the go-ahead score but the Blue Raiders defense and Brouwer held strong. The 49ers outshot the first-time opponent 18-5 after the first period.
Middle Tennessee had taken a 2-0 lead during the opening frame when its own Preseason Conference Player to Watch, Kate Loye, got on the board at 21:38 when she headed home a long free kick by Miranda Caballero just over the outstretched arms of Charlotte goalkeeper Annika McHenry.
Loye then set up the Blue Raiders’ second score, sending a corner kick to the top of the six-yard box. Angie Lai collected the loose ball and fired a low shot through 49ers defense to give MT its 2-0 cushion at 37:24.
McHenry finished with four saves, while Brouwer gathered six stops as both netminders played the full 110 minutes.
Jones, who had five shots in Friday’s victory over UTSA, added another seven Sunday, while Kiebel, Jennifer Lee and Sara Trexler contributed four apiece. Loye, Katinka Stenberg and Amalie Anderdal each tallied two shots to pace Middle Tennessee.
Charlotte returns to action when it hits the road for its longest trip of the season, traveling to El Paso, Texas, to square off against UTEP at 9 p.m. EST Friday. The away stretch against Conference USA West Division foes will conclude at 2 p.m. EST Sunday when the 49ers stay in the Lone Star State and face North Texas in Denton, Texas.