Press release provided by the Charlotte 49ers
Charlotte, N.C. -- Charlotte rattled off three unanswered goals to overtake Mercer, 3-1, in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Div. I Men’s Soccer Tournament, Thursday in front of a crowd of 1,476 at Transamerica Field.
The 49ers (11-3-4), making their eighth NCAA appearance in the last nine years, spotted Mercer (14-6-0) an early goal before storming back for the win.
“Down a goal in a playoff game can really unnerve you,” 49ers head coach Kevin Langan said. “I actually thought it settled us. After the goal we settled down well and got on top and scored two great goals.”
Mercer, playing in its third NCAA Tournament in the last four years, took the early lead, 1-0 in the 14th minute on a goal by Joshua Harrison. Mercer brought a short corner into the box and after a heel towards the six-yard box, Mercer’s initial shot was blocked but fell to Harrison who took a touch and scored near post.
Charlotte was able to answer in the 23rd minute when Luke Johnson lofted a cross to the far post that banged off the post for the tying goal.
“Honestly, I saw the keeper was quite front post and I just tried to get anywhere at the back post,” Johnson said. “If it went in, it went in -- which it did. I was pretty happy about it. I was probably looking more for the cross, but I’ll take it.”
In the last seven minutes of the first half, the 49ers scored on a set piece with a Teddy Chaouche corner kick lifted to the far post where Chance Pellerin carried it in for the go-ahead goal.
“The second half we couldn’t get control of the game,” Langan noted. “Mercer was an effective team and made it hard for us. It was a bit back and forth and it was who was going to get the next goal.”
Charlotte put the game away in the final 10 minutes when Patrick Hogan scored off an assist from Johnson.
“When you get in these playoff games, it comes down to small moments, little details, set pieces,” said Mercer head coach Brad Ruzzo. “We knew they were good on set pieces. The third one, I’m not concerned about because we were pressing everybody forward. I said in my head were either going to tie it 2-2 or lose 3-1. You have to go for it.”
“It was a real traditional playoff game,” Langan added. “Back and forth and had four goals for the fans. And a quick note about the fans - they were absolutely incredible tonight. It was a really great soccer night here in Charlotte.”
With the victory the 49ers advance to the second round where they will face Clemson, Sunday.