BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. –
Senior Sara Trexler
tallied the only Charlotte goal Saturday evening, as the 49ers women’s soccer program earned a 1-1 draw at Gardner-Webb to conclude its preseason slate in Boiling Springs, N.C. Charlotte, the Conference USA preseason favorites, put 21 players onto the field in its second exhibition contest of the week.
“Tonight was another important step in our preseason preparations,” head coach John Cullen
said after the 90-minute tie. “We were able to get a large volume of players on the field, which is important this time of year.
“Overall, I’m pleased with how we played. We controlled much of the play but felt we pressed maybe a bit too much at times. We had some chances that we couldn’t finish, but hopefully we’re saving those for the regular season.
“I believe we have finished preseason on a strong note, and now we are turning our attention to the regular season and wanting to start that off well Friday night.”
The Niners jumped out in front first thanks to a quick start early, peppering the Runnin’ Bulldogs cage with a flurry of shots. Charlotte fired multiple attempts towards the Gardner-Webb net, including the game’s first three by sophomores Rebecca Beatty
and Kaitlin Walker
, along with senior preseason All-Conference USA choice Amanda Jones
, but goalkeeper Amy Schmitt stood tall with saves on the first two attempts.
After Shelby Hooe finally put a tally in the shot column for the home team with her attempt that sailed high in the 15th
minute, freshman Virginia Lingo
and Jones would later add shots for the Niners.
Trexler finally found the breakthrough goal at 29:55, the squad’s first of the preseason, when she curled a ball into the left-side netting from the top of the penalty area to beat Schmitt and give the 49ers the 1-0 lead.
The Runnin’ Bulldogs answered just over five minutes later, at 35:36, when Justine Ibarra located Jessica Ferguson’s head, who then slipped the header behind starting netminder Annika McHenry
to knot the score 1-1.
Neither team could find the back of the net again in the first frame after that, although Charlotte held an 8-4 advantage in the shots category and forcing Schmitt into three saves during the opening 45 minutes. Lingo sent a ball high just before the intermission, at 44:36, capping a strong start for the Niners.
The 49ers produced a higher accuracy rate in the second period putting eight of their 12 shots on frame and causing backup goalkeeper Krista Chauvin into eight saves.
The second stanza began much like the first, with Charlotte registering the first four shots plus a corner kick in the opening 10:16. Walker, Trexler and Beatty were all on the action, along with freshman Martha Thomas
, but Chauvin and the Gardner-Webb defense held firm.
Jones then had a string of four shots during an eight-minute span; however, Chauvin denied her twice with the other two attempts being sent wide of the goal frame. It marked the end of Jones’ night after the rush, as Cullen freely substituted in his reserves in an effort to get playing time for multiple players.
The Runnin’ Bulldogs notched three-straight shots, including two from Ashley Carmean, with just under 15 minutes left, but none were a serious threat as they were either sent high or wide.
Redshirt senior Jennifer Lee
gave the 49ers one last chance, at 89:35, but Chauvin grabbed the save and preserved the tie.
Charlotte will now begin its full-time preparations for the season opener, 7 p.m. Friday, at UNC Greensboro in Greensboro. It marks the only match of the opening weekend for the 49ers and the start of a season-opening stretch in which they will play their first five games all away from the friendly confines of Transamerica Field.