Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Former soccer star Heaney returns to Charlotte

Aiden Heaney has an unusual job tonight.

Heaney, one of the players most responsible for sending the Charlotte 49ers men’s soccer team into its first NCAA Tournament in 1991, will do his best to kick the 49ers out of this one.

As a player, Heaney was a two-time most valuable player as goalkeeper and academic all-American and still holds the record for career shutouts and goals against average.

Now as head coach of UNC Wilmington (14-2-4), he must try to defeat Charlotte (11-3-5) in a first round matchup in the NCAA Tournament at 7 p.m. Thursday at the 49ers’ Transamerica Field. The winner will play at 1 p.m. Sunday at No. 3 Wake Forest.

Now in his 10th season at the helm of the Seahawks (104-93-15), Heaney has established the Seahawks as a perennial challenger for the title in the Colonial Athletic Association.

“We’re excited to be in the tournament and eager to get on the field,” said Heaney who had his number retired at Charlotte in 2003. “Charlotte is a quality opponent who has a solid season. They are a dangerous opponent who already have a win at Wake Forest to their credit.”

The 49ers hold a 6-5-2 mark in the all-time series, including a 3-1 win in 2008 at Wilmington in the UNCW/Courtyard by Marriott Classic. Wilmington’s last win in the series came in 1983, a 3-1 victory in Charlotte.

Charlotte went undefeated this season at home (5-0-2) and owns wins over three NCAA Tournament participants - Wake Forest, Winthrop and Saint Louis, which won the Atlantic 10 tournament.

Senior Adam Gross leads the 49ers in goal scoring with eight, Evan James has seven and former Watauga High star Jennings Rex, a freshman, has six.