|Bronico's late goal sends 49ers to Championship|
Charlotte, N.C.- Kentucky saw its chances of a Conference USA tournament championships fall through as the 49ers defeated the seventh seeded Wildcats for the second time this season by a score of 1-0 on Friday night. Brandt Bronico’s goal late in the first half guides the 49ers to its seventh straight victory.
Kentucky upset the second seeded Old Dominion Monarchs on Wednesday night in a thrilling 1-0 overtime match to set up the match up against the 49ers.
Charlotte 49er defenders: Biko Bradnock-Brennan, Thomas Allen, Nick Barnhorst, David Mayer and Luke Waechter, helped the 49ers secure the tenth shutout of the season in front of net-minder Klay Davis. “We defended incredibly, defended our box wonderfully,” said Coach Kevin Langan.
Klay Davis became the all-time winningest keeper in program history picking up his 44th win. Davis is also tied with former 49er keeper Aidan Heaney for most shutouts in his career with 28.5.
“It’s not just the four guys at the back. The team does a great job defending from the front to the back.” The 49ers midfielders: Will Mayhew, Aidan Kirkbride, Tyler Gibson, Brandt Bronico, and Robby Thomas as well as 49ers forwards Giuseppe Gentile, Kyle Parker, Hans Honer and Monbo Bokar are fueling the streak. “The forwards do a great job pressuring the strikers and making the passes hard to complete. Our midfielders do a great job cutting out the passing lanes. It has been another incredible defensive game.”
Charlotte’s Brandt Bronico put the 49ers on the board in the 40th minute after Giuseppe played a through ball up the middle of the pitch to Hans Honer. Honer sprinted down the pitch to the top of the box and laid the ball off to Brandt Bronico on the left side. Bronico finished the run finding the back of the net on the far post. “We were on the break for a counter attack; I seen free space and slid it in back post,” said Brandt Bronico.
Bronico’s goal would wind up being the game winner to secure a spot in the 2013 Conference USA Championship game. Bronico scored his third goal of the season and his first game winner. Bronico finished with two shots.
The 49ers and the Wildcats spent most of the first half feeling each other out. Charlotte finished the first half with a 6-5 shot advantage heading into the locker room. “It wasn’t the prettiest of games, but it was a true college game,” said Langan.
Kentucky came out aggressive in the second half peppering the Charlotte goal but unable to find the equalizer. Davis weathered the storm stopping six potential equalizers. Kentucky’s Brad Doliner sent a ball into the box in the 60th minute but 49er defender Thomas Allen was there to clear the ball of the back line. Kentucky’s Bryan Celis sent a rocket towards the cage in the 64th minute but Klay Davis was on the end of the shot to punch the ball out of harms way.
Robby Thomas headed one towards the Wildcat cage late in the second half but fell into the arms of Kentucky’s Callum Irving for his only save of the night.
Charlotte finished the match with an 8-0 advantage in corner kicks. That is the second time the 49ers have kept a team from attempting a corner kick. Charlotte held Campbell without a corner in a 3-0 win earlier in the season.
For the fourth time this season, Charlotte was outshot. Kentucky took 15 shots with six being on target. Charlotte took 10 shots with only two finding the target.
Charlotte has rolled to a seven straight win keeping opponents at bay. The 49ers have scored 19 goals during that span and limiting the opposition to two goals. “We have to keep on enjoying it. This is an incredible soccer conference.” Top-seeded New Mexico went down in the first match of the day to Tulsa 3-0. “You throw the seeds out when you get these seven teams together.”
Charlotte will face the fifth seeded Tulsa in the 2013 Conference USA Championship on Sunday at 1:30pm. The match will be broadcast on the CBS Sports Network.