Charlotte, N.C.- In the first year back into the Conference USA; the Charlotte 49ers finds themselves in the Conference USA Championships.
Charlotte came into the tournament as the sixth seed playing some of the best soccer of the season. The Niners defeated UAB in the semifinals 2-1 behind the foot of Giuseppe Gentile. Gentile scored both of the 49ers goals in the win. Charlotte went on to defeat Kentucky 1-0 in the quarterfinals behind Brandt Bronico’s first half goal.
The 49ers have reached the conference championship match only four times in program history. Charlotte is 1-3 in those matches with the lone win coming against Old Dominion in the Sun Belt Championship match in 1983. The 49ers defeated Old Dominion 1-0 in 6OT. The most recent championship match was against Saint Louis in 2003 when the Billikens won on penalty kicks.
Charlotte squares off with Tulsa in the championship match. Tulsa is coming off a 3-1 win over South Carolina and a 3-0 upset over New Mexico. This will be the second meeting all-time against the Golden Hurricane, with both meetings coming this season.
“It’s really exciting to have another opportunity at home to play in front of our fans. I have never been in a conference championship, so it is an exciting feeling,” said Tyler Gibson. “It makes it more exciting because it is at home. It is something we have been working for all season,” said Thomas Allen.
Tulsa took the first meeting 3-2 in overtime at Tulsa. Charlotte led heading into the locker room 1-0 after Kyle Parker scored early in the match off a header. Tulsa opened the second half with two early goals to take the lead. Luke Waechter scored on a corner kick in the 89th minute to send the match into overtime. Tulsa found the decisive goal in the 92nd minute from Cristian Mata.
Tulsa and Charlotte enter the match with identical 11-5-3 records. Charlotte finds itself riding a seven match win streak, while Tulsa has won four straight heading into the Conference USA Championships featured on CBS Sports Network on Sunday at 1:30 pm.
The match will be televised on the CBS Sports Network. Direct TV channel 221, Time Warner Cable channel 537 and 1537. Check your local listings for other cable providers.