Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Basketball recruit a double threat?

Some 49ers news and notes:

The 49ers' athletic department is having a staff retreat today. Wonder if football coach Brad Lambert is talking to men's basketball coach Alan Major about Shawn Lester?

Charlotte got its first basketball class of 2012 commitment Tuesday from Lester, a shooting guard from Mooresville High. Lester, incidentally, is also an excellent football player. A 6-3 wide receiver, he caught a game-tying touchdown pass (going up over a few defenders to get it) in the Blue Devils' recent upset of West Rowan (snapping the Falcons' nation-best 46-game winning streak).

Lester was accompanied on his official visit to Charlotte a few weeks ago by 6-8 power forward Willie Clayton of Thomasville, Ga.

Thomasville coach Ben Tillman says Clayton is a rugged player who likes to play in the post. He's also considering South Florida, Mercer and Old Dominion, according to Tillman.

-- Former 49ers point guard Mitchell Baldwin has just been hired as an assistant coach at Metrolina Christian in Indian Trail.

"(We) are excited to have him on our coaching staff," said Metrolina Christian head coach Michael Wilson in an email. "He brings a wealth of knowledge, experience and energy to our program."

Another former Charlotte player -- DeMarco Johnson -- was recently hired as an assistant at Hampton.

-- With Charlotte's first football game exactly two years away (Aug. 31, 2013 against Campbell) a student-run tailgate party was scheduled for today (Thursday) from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. to celebrate. Among the activities is a field-goal kicking contest.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mooresville's Lester commits to 49ers

Shawn Lester, a 6-foot-3 shooting guard from Mooresville High, has committed to Charlotte. Lester chose the 49ers over Clemson and South Carolina.

Lester, a senior, averaged 18.5 points, 5 assists and 5 steals for the Blue Devils (19-11), who lost to Western 4A regional qualifier Olympic in the first round of the playoffs.

"I thought that was right for me," Lester said. "It'll help me get my degree and help me be a better player and I hope to help them win."

Lester said the Charlotte staff told him he'd play shooting guard.

"I'm comfortable with the (shooting guard position)," he said. "I'm glad I can get this (college choice) done early and focus on my academics and focus on getting ready for my senior season." -- Langston Wertz Jr.

Fast start for 49ers' James

Charlotte men's soccer coach Jeremy Gunn probably isn't surprised 49ers senior forward Evan James is the Atlantic 10's first player-of-the-week of the season.

Coming off a four-goal season in 2010, James scored both the 49ers' goals in Monday's season-opening 2-1 victory at Coastal Carolina.

Gunn expects James to be much more productive this season. James was injured (groin) for much of the  preseason in 2010, and although he played in all 19 of Charlotte's games, Gunn felt like he never was able to fully recover.

"He never had the stamina he needed because he missed so much work in the spring and summer," said Gunn.

Charlotte opens at home Sunday at 7 p.m. at Transamerica Field against UNC Wilmington.
-- This from my colleague Langston Wertz Jr.: Marvin Ridge High soccer player Kyle Parker has committed to the 49ers. Parker started on the Mavericks' 2009 state championship team.

49ers men win soccer opener

Evan James scored twice and the Charlotte 49ers (1-0) rallied for a 2-1 men's soccer victory at Coastal Carolina (0-1). Kjartan Sigurdsson's goal put the Chanticleers up 1-0 early.

-- Natalie Lavigne made six saves and Charlotte (1-1-2) played to a 0-0 tie with Providence (0-0-3) in women's soccer Sunday.

-- Observer news services

Friday, August 26, 2011

49ers volleyball opens season

-- The 49ers volleyball team opens its season this weekend in a tournament at Appalachian State. Charlotte faces Kennesaw State today at 4:30 p.m., then plays N.C. State at 10 a.m. Saturday and Appalachian State at 7 p.m.

Charlotte is coming off its first winning season since 2007 and is led by captain Sheri Davis, a senior setter.

The 49ers open at home next weekend in the Hilton University 49er Invitational n Halton Arena. The 49ers will play Campbell Sept. 9 at 7 p.m.,then go against Morgan State (12:30 p.m.) and Furman (7 p.m.) Sept. 10.

-- Charlotte's women's soccer team (1-0-1) plays its first two home games of the season this weekend, going against Florida Gulf Coast today at 7 p.m. and Providence at 1 p.m. Sunday. The 49ers opened their season last weekend with a tie against North Florida and a victory against Jacksonville.

-- The 49ers' men's soccer team's opener at Coastal Carolina was moved from Saturday to Monday, due to the expected weather caused by Hurricane Irene in Conway, S.C..

Thursday, August 25, 2011

10 49ers football prospects to watch

Although their first season is still two years away, the Charlotte 49ers are already recruiting players. Here’s a list of 10 prospective 49ers -- some of whom Charlotte has already offered scholarships to, others the 49ers are interested in and others who are interested in the 49ers -- along with their schedules. Most are in the Charlotte area if 49ers fans want to see them play this season, but a few would require a road trip.

Zach Blair, QB, 6-4, 220, Gray (S.C.) Military Academy: In Columbia-area prep school now, transferred from Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes, where he played with Marcus Lattimore, now a star running back at South Carolina ... Scheduled to play in Charlotte on Sept. 29 against N.C. Tech.
Saturday: Orangeburg-Calhoun Prep.
Sept. 4, at Atlanta Sports Academy. 18, at Hampton Roads (Va.) CC; 24, Jireh Prep; 29, at N.C. Tech.
Oct. 8, at Point University; 16, Greenville Tech; 23, Chattahoochee Tech; 29, Fork Union.
Nov. 6, West Virginia Prep; 12, at Southern Tech.

Justin Bolus, athlete, 6-2, 190, James Island (S.C.): Offered by 49ers ... Best chance for him to play in college is probably at linebacker, but he’s playing quarterback this season because he’s the team’s best athlete ... Has also played safety and tailback ... Also has interest from Georgia State, Furman, Army, Liberty, Georgia Southern.
Friday: at St. John’s.
Sept. 2, Stall; 8, at Colleton County; 16, Wando; 23, at Ashley Ridge; 30, at Beaufort.
Oct. 7, Summerville; 14, Goose Creek; 21, at Fort Dorchester; 28, at Stratford.
Nov. 4, W. Ashley.

Matt Carrick, OL, 6-2, 260, Ardrey Kell: Is an FCS prospect (6-2, 260 pounds) and has expressed interest in 49ers.
Friday: at Marvin Ridge.
Sept. 2, at Hopewell; 9, Weddington; 16, S. Mecklenburg; 23, at Independence; 30, Myers Park.
Oct. 7, at Butler; 14, at E. Mecklenburg; 21, at Rocky River; 28, at Providence.

Andrew Goodman, QB, 6-2, 210, Mallard Creek: Big, strong-armed leader of top team in Charlotte area ... Has offer from Western Michigan and also considering Youngstown State.
Friday: at Sun Valley.
Sept. 2, at Berry; 16, at Mooresville; 23, at Lake Norman; 30, at Vance.
Oct. 7, at N. Mecklenburg; 14, Hopewell; 21, at W. Charlotte; 28, Hough.

Martez Hester, S, 6-3, 175, North Cobb (Ga.): Offered by 49ers ... Also has offers from Alabama-Birmingham and Arkansas State.
Friday: Alpharetta.
Sept. 2, at Centennial; 9, Lassiter; 16, at Kennesaw Mountain; 30, at Campbell.
Oct. 7, Pebblebrook; 14, Hillgrove; 21, at McEachern; 28, S. Cobb.
Nov. 4, at Harrison.

Karsten Miller, QB, 6-2, 200, North Davidson: Offered by 49ers ... Broke his leg in season opener last week, not known if he’ll back this season ... Accounted for 27 TDs for Knights in 2010. Tonight:
Friday: Ledford.
Sept. 2, at E. Davidson; 9, at Statesville; 16, Lexington; 23, at Asheboro; 30, at Winston-Salem Mount Tabor.
Oct. 7, at Pfafftown Reagan; 14, at W. Forsyth; 21, at Winston-Salem Reynolds; 28, at Davie County.

Harrison Monk, OT, 6-4, 255, Providence: Offered by 49ers ... Team captain also has interest in Marshall, Towson, Furman.
Friday: at Charlotte Catholic.
Sept. 2, Hough; 16, Rocky River; 23, at S. Mecklenburg; 30, Independence.
Oct. 7, at Myers Park; 14, Butler; 21, East Mecklenburg; 28, at Ardrey Kell.

Jarvis Morgan, WR, 6-3, 180, West Rowan: Might be a reach for Charlotte ... Rangy receiver who has also heard from Wake Forest.
Friday: Davie County.
Sept. 2, at Salisbury; 10, Rock Hill South Pointe; 16, Statesville; 23, at S. Rowan; 30, E. Rowan.
Oct. 7, at Reidsville; 14, at N. Iredell; 21, China Grove Carson; 28, at W. Iredell.

Ryan Smith, QB, 5-11, 175, Sun Valley: His brother Cory went to UNC Pembroke a few years ago when the Braves were starting their program ... Also considering Coastal Carolina, South Carolina ... Charlotte also interested in Sun Valley C Jarred Barr and RB Jadarrius Williams, according to Spartans coach Scott Stein.
Friday: at Mallard Creek.
Sept. 9, at Garinger; 23, at Clover, S.C.; 30, at Anson.
Oct. 7, at Marvin Ridge; 14, Monroe Parkwood; 21, at Weddington; 28, at Porter Ridge.

Logan Stoodley, LB, 6-0, 210, West Rowan: Defensive MVP of last season’s N.C. 3A championship game is just a junior this season.
Friday: Davie County.
Sept. 2, at Salisbury; 10, Rock Hill South Pointe; 16, Statesville; 23, at S. Rowan; 30, E. Rowan.
Oct. 7, at Reidsville; 14, at N. Iredell; 21, China Grove Carson; 28, at W. Iredell.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Football recruiting target breaks leg

Karsten Miller, a quarterback at North Davidson High who has been offered a scholarship at Charlotte, broke his leg Friday in the Knights' season-opening game against Thomasville.

Knights coach Mark Holcomb said Miller had surgery on his broken femur on Saturday. It is still not known how much time Miller will miss.

Miller, a 6-2, 200-pound senior, was the Central Piedmont 4A's player of the year last season. He accounted for 27 touchdowns for the Knights.

Holcomb said Charlotte is the only offer Miller has received so far.

Other offers made by the 49ers include:

-- Offensive tackle Harrison Monk of Charlotte's Providence High, according to Panthers coach Randy Long.

-- Safety Martez Hester of Kennesaw, Ga., according to

-- Quarterback Justin Bolus of James Island, S.C., according to the Charleston Post and Courier.

-- Quarterback Chris Jenkins of Lake Marion, S.C., according to the Times-Democrat of Orangeburg, S.C.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

SoCon non-interest in 49ers 'could change'

With Appalachian State making a possible move up to the NCAA's Football Bowl Subdivision, a spot in the Southern Conference might be opening up.

Does that mean there's a spot in the SoCon for the Charlotte 49ers' football program, which starts play in 2013? Remember, the conference already turned away the 49ers in the spring. But now, the league could drop to 11 members (eight in football) whenever Appalachian State would leave.

"If and when the time comes that we have 11 members, we would look at all options," Southern Conference commissioner John Iamarino said Tuesday. "Right now, our membership has already said there was not enough interest in taking Charlotte just for football. But that could change if we go down to 11, I guess. We'll talk about all our options."

The 49ers' best bet would probably continue to be the Colonial Athletic Association, either as a full-time or football-only member. Athletics director Judy Rose had no comment on any renewed interest the school might have in the Southern Conference. Football coach Brad Lambert said earlier this week that talks are continuing with the CAA.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Football coaches on the road

I sat down with 49ers football coach Brad Lambert last week for a story that will appear in The Observer later this week. Here a few highlights of our talk:

-- Lambert and his staff spent a few days in July at Texas-San Antonio, which is starting football this season. Charlotte’s coaches have been visiting other schools’ football practices this month, among them: Wake Forest, Eastern Kentucky, James Madison, Pittsburgh, East Carolina and even Division II Wingate.

-- He said he’ll hire three more assistants in January. One of them will probably be an offensive line coach. He’s also thinking about getting an equipment manager hired then, since there’s lots of stuff that will need to be ordered by the time Charlotte starts its own practice in August 2012 (with still a year  after that before the 49ers play). Right now, director of football operations Trevor Lambert is handling those duties.

-- More on equipment: Brad Lambert wants to get a helmet chosen quickly, since that will be the identifying symbol of the program. He likes the green helmet with the 49ers logo that’s being used in the school’s marketing campaign now, but wants to see what a white one looks like.

-- Lambert took notice when a student manager at Notre Dame was killed last year when a sudden storm came up while he was filming practice on a scissors lift. Lambert said he’s thinking about having practices filmed with cameras mounted on poles, being controlled remotely.

-- Lambert said there have been several recruits on campus this summer taking unofficial visits. Official visits will begin in December, when the recruits will be entertained at home basketball games.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

49ers host Tar Heels in soccer friendly

The 49ers men's soccer team plays its final exhibition tonight (Sunday), facing North Carolina at 7 p.m. at Transamerica Field.

Charlotte beat Winthrop 2-0 on Wednesday, getting goals from Isaac Cowles and Donnie Smith. Freshman Giuseppe Gentile was impressive, setting up Smith's goal. The 49ers also looked dangerous on set pieces, with Cowles' goal coming off a corner. Evan James also barely missed a header from a direct kick.

The Tar Heels will likely be national-championship contenders, as well as a favorite in the ACC. One of their top players is junior midfielder Enzo Martinez, who's from Rock Hill. Like Charlotte defender Charles Rodriguez, Martinez is on the preseason Hermann Trophy watch list.

Charlotte opens its regular season Saturday at Coastal Carolina; the Tar Heels host UNC Wilmington in their season opener, also on Saturday.

-- The 49ers' women (0-0-1) finish their season-opening road trip today at Jacksonville (the game started at noon). Charlotte tied North Florida on Friday, and had a chance to win it late in the game, but Macky Wingo hit the post. The 49ers play their home opener this coming Friday against Florida Gulf Coast.

-- Former Charlotte softball pitchers Emily Jeffery and Katy Hackett have been playing in the European Cup in Enschede, Netherlands. Jeffery has been pitching for the Afterburners of Belgium, while Hackett has been playing for the Wesseling Vermins of Germany.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

49ers women tie in double OT

The Charlotte 49ers begin their 2011 women's soccer season with a 0-0 double-overtime tie against North Florida in Jacksonville. Charlotte has recorded a shutout in its first game the last three seasons.

Macky Wingo had the 49ers' best scoring chance when she banged a shot off the post in the 84th minute.

Charlotte finished with a 13-11 shot advantage.

-- Staff

Friday, August 19, 2011

Previewing 49ers women's soccer

The 49ers women’s soccer team opens its season tonight (Friday) in Jacksonville, Fla., against North Florida. Charlotte plays again Sunday against Jacksonville, then opens at home next Friday against Florida Gulf Coast.

2010 was bittersweet for the 49ers, who ended a step short of the NCAA tournament with a 4-3 loss in double overtime to Dayton in the final of the Atlantic 10 tournament.

And with six starters back, the 49ers are again picked to finish behind the Flyers in the conference. Charlotte will get its chances – all on the Flyers’ field. The final game of Charlotte’s regular season is at Dayton, and the league tournament is the following week at Dayton, too.

Returning is senior Macky Wingo, whose 12 goals and four assists led Charlotte (16-5) in scoring, despite the presence of Whitney Weinraub, the program’s all-time leading scorer who has since graduated.

The loss of Weinraub, as well as standouts such as Megan Minnix and Sam Huecker (now an assistant coach at Lenoir-Rhyne), mean young players will need to contribute quickly. Nineteen players on the roster are either freshmen or sophomores.

“We can’t use that as an excuse that we might not know each other as well as we will later in the season,” said coach John Cullen, a former 49ers men’s player who has a two-year record of 32-8-2 at Charlotte.

Although Charlotte’s four defenders from 2010 have graduated, the 49ers have senior Katie Davies back to anchor the defense. Davies missed last season when she injured her ankle while doing a forward flip before throwing the ball in during an exhibition.

“That’s a great weapon to have, almost like a good cross,” said Cullen. “I’m sure she’d love to do it again, but having seen what it did to her, we wouldn’t want to put her in risk’s way. It is one of her trademarks, though.”

Davies will be the leader of the defense, but there’s also experience in the goal, where sophomore Alex Kubrick and senior Natalie LaVigne split time last season.

And scoring goals shouldn’t be a problem, with Wingo, senior Obi Bernard (four goals, six assists last season), senior Jonna Handra (three goals, five assists) also back.

Newcomers to watch are freshmen Sara Trexler (midfielder/forward), Amanda Jones (midfielder/forward) and Darby Broeker (defender/forward).

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lane joins women's soccer staff

Former Belmont Abbey coach Robert Lane has been named an assistant women's soccer coach at Charlotte.

Lane left Belmont Abbey after last season for an assistant's job at Georgia Southern, but came to Charlotte after Sarah Denton left the 49ers' program. Lane was 31-8-1 in two seasons with the Crusaders, including an 18-2-1 mark in Conference Carolinas. Lane was the league's coach of the year last season, taking the Crusaders to a second consecutive NCAA tournament.

49ers play friendly at Winthrop

The 49ers' men's soccer team plays the first of two preseason exhibitions tonight at Winthrop (7 p.m.). It's the start of a season that holds a lot of promise.

Coach Jeremy Gunn's team returns nine starters from last season's Atlantic 10 regular-season champion. The major loss is striker Andres Cuero (who is playing for the Wilmington Hammerheads), who led the team with nine goals last season. The other starter, defender Justin Tucker, left the program.

Gunn thinks he has enough firepower to replace Cuero (whose goals were often clutch) -- Donnie Smith (six goals), Evan James four goals), T.J. Bealieau and Jennings Rex all return. The midfield is probably the strongest in the A-10, led by Tyler Gibson and Will Mayhew.

Gunn also thinks he has perhaps the best central defenders tandem in the country in seniors Isaace Cowles and Charles Rodriguez. They've started together since they were freshmen. Rodriguez is on the Hermann Trophy watch (college soccer's Heisman Trophy).

A freshman to watch is striker Giuseppe Gentile from Charlotte's Ardrey Kell High. "How can you go wrong with a name like that?" Gunn said.

Charlotte plays another friendly on Sunday at Transamerica Field against North Carolina, then opens its season Aug. 27 at Coastal Carolina. The home opener is Sept. 4 against UNC Wilmington. The non-conference schedule is really tough, highlighted by road games against Clemson, Virginia, Maryland and South Carolina.

-- Don't look for senior women's soccer player Katie Davies to use her unique forward flip throw-in this season. She injured her ankle and missed last season after she came down awkwardly while throwing the ball in during a preseason exhibition last season. Davies is back stronger than ever now, and will anchor what will otherwise be an inexperienced defense for the 49ers, who open their season Friday in a tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., against North Florida.

-- Charlotte golfer Olafur Loftsson will play in this weekend's Wyndham Championship in Greensboro. It's the first time an golfer from Iceland has played in a PGA Tour event. The tournament has received several requests from Iceland media to cover the event. Loftsson qualified for the Wyndham by winning last weekend's Cardinal Amateur.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Maxon aboard as assistant golf coach

The Charlotte 49ers have hired Joey Maxon as an assistant golf coach. Maxon, a former All-American at Clemson, was an assistant at East Tennessee last season. He joins first-year head coach Ryan Cabbage on the Charlotte staff.

Maxon helped Clemson to two ACC championships and two top-three finishes in the NCAA tournament. Maxon also played in two U.S. Opens. Before going to ETSU, Maxon was a teach pro at Maxongolf from 2007-10.

"With his background as a player, his understanding of the game, his work as an instructor -- that speaks for itself," said first-year head coach Ryan Cabbage. "He's a two-time All-American who played in a couple of U.S. Opens -- there aren't any of those guys out there."

-- 49ers soccer defender Charles Rodriguez has been named a preseason third-team All-American by College Soccer News. Rodriguez was also recently named the country's 39th best pro prospect by   

Thursday, August 11, 2011

49ers women selected 2nd in A10 preseason soccer

One day after Charlotte's men's soccer team was picked to win the Atlantic 10 championship, the 49ers' women are the preseason selection to finish second.

The 49ers (16-5 last season) were chosen to finish by the league's coaches behind two-time defending champ Dayton. Charlotte also had three players on the preseason all-conference team -- forward Macky Wingo, defender Katie Davies and midfielder Jonna Harper. Charlotte midfielders Amanda Jones and Sara Trexler also made the all-rookie team.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

49ers basketball players gather for reunion

More than 35 players showed up recently for basketball coach Alan Major's second annual reunion. It's something Major started last August before his first season coaching the 49ers.

The turnout was excellent: Players like Cedric Maxwell, Kevin King, Diego Guevara and Byron Dinkins attended. It's a way, Major has said, to bring some continuity to the program and foster a lot of fellowship among the players. That and swap old stories amongst each other.

"You never have to ask to come home," Major told the players. "And this is your home."

A few other 49ers notes:

-- Charlotte's men's soccer team, which returns 10 starters from last season's Atlantic 10 regular-season championship team, has been picked to win the league this year. The 49ers have five preseason all-conference players: defender Charles Rodriguez, midfielder Tyler Gibson, forward Evan James, midfielder Donnie Smith and defender Isaac Cowles. Freshman forward Guiseppe Gentile (Ardrey Kell High) made the preseason all-rookie team.

-- The women's soccer team has started preseason practice. The 49ers, who won last season's Atlantic 10 regular-season title, open the season Aug. 19 at North Florida. The home opener is Aug. 26 against Florida Gulf Coast.

-- Charlotte's volleyball team has been picked fifth in the Atlantic 10's preseason poll. The 49ers (16-15 last season) open with a tournament Aug. 26-27 at Appalachian State, then open their home season Sept. 9-10 the following weekend with the Hilton University 49er Invitational, hosting Campbell, Morgan State and Furman.

-- According to a Twitter post by 49ers guard Luca Voncina, former Charlotte basketball player Gokhan Sirin has signed with pro club Anadolu Efes in his hometown of Istanbul, Turkey.