CHARLOTTE, NC – Aidan Kirkbride scored his second goal of the season, however, the Charlotte 49ers (4-3-1, C-USA: 0-1-1) lost to South Carolina (3-4-2, C-USA: 1-0-0), 2-1, in their Conference USA home opener in front of 2,516 fans which is the sixth largest crowd in school history.
“It’s a cruel game when you look at the stats and how many chances we had and how well we played and created the chances,” Charlotte coach Kevin Langan said. “They were such soft goals that we gave away. We don’t deserve to be winners when you give away soft goals like that. We need more out of some of the players. We need more out of some of the leaders. We need some more personality out of the team. It is a shout out to the players. We have to do better than that. We knew South Carolina was going to dump balls into our box; we have to stand up and be strong. With the chances that we create, we need players to stand up and bury those for us. The performance was okay, disappointed in the chances we gave up, and disappointed in the chances we missed. We are so close to being a fantastic team, we are not there yet, and I hope this is the last little reality shot that we need to get our season going and kick on a little bit.”
Kirkbride gave the 49ers a 1-0 lead when he blasted a shot into the back of the net from 25 yards out off a clear out of a corner kick by David Mayer in the 27th minute. Kirkbride’s goal was his second of the season and the eighth of his career.
Just before Kirkbride’s goal, Charlotte’s Kyle Parker nearly scored off a corner kick by Mayer but his header was cleared off the line by a South Carolina defender just before going over the goal line in the 19th minute.
Charlotte finished the first half with an 11-2 advantage in shots. In the 35th minute, Parker nearly scored another goal but his shot was stopped by South Carolina goalkeeper Marco Velez. In the 43rd minute, Kirkbride had another scoring chance but his shot was stopped by South Carolina’s Velez.
In the 52nd minute, South Carolina tied the score at one when Mahamoudou Kaba knocked in a Ryan Arambula free kick.
Charlotte had several chances to regain the lead but shots by Monbo Bokar, Tyler Gibson, Will Mayhew, Kirkbride, Parker were either wide, high, blocked or stopped by South Carolina’s goalkeeper Velez.
In the 81st minute, South Carolina’s Ive Burnett took a corner kick that was cleared out by Charlotte’s defense. South Carolina’s Braden Troyer corralled the clear out and connected on a shot from 25 yards out that went inside the far right post giving South Carolina a 2-1 lead.
In the 83rd minute, the 49ers nearly scored the game-tying goal but Bokar’s shot from eight yards out went just over the cross bar.
Charlotte finished the game with a 23-6 advantage in shots and a 12-1 advantage in corner kicks. Kirkbride led the 49ers with six shots. Parker had four shots. Giuseppe Gentile added three shots. Thomas Allen, Brandt Bronico, Gibson, Mayhew and Bokar added two shots apiece.
Charlotte concludes their four-game home stand when they play 24th-ranked Wake Forest at Transamerica Field, Tuesday, October 1 at 7 pm.