Sunday, December 11, 2011

Reflections on the 49ers' College Cup run

HOOVER, Ala. -- Soccer can be a cruel sport.

All it takes for a team that's been dominated for an entire game is one moment of magic. And the game can be won in that moment. That's what happened for the North Carolina Tar Heels, who beat the 49ers 1-0 in the College Cup final on Sunday at Regions Park.

The 49ers outshot the Tar Heels 19-10 and peppered the goal constantly in the final 10 minutes, but couldn't get the equalizer. Included was one 40-second flurry where Charlotte had five shots. The 49ers hit the post twice.

But the Tar Heels hit the shot that counted, a 25-yard blast from Akron transfer Ben Speas. It was the second consecutive season Speas played for a national-championship winning team (soccer players don't have to sit out a season if they transfer).

What's next for the 49ers? They lose three senior starters, most notably All-American defender Charles Rodriguez and Isaac Cowles, the College Cup's most outstanding defender. But eight starters will be back.

Maybe they'll again get the kind of support they received from Charlotte fans Sunday, when six busloads worth of them made the trip to Hoover.

"I couldn't hear any Carolina fans," said Cowles. "They were showing some Charlotte love."


Anonymous said...

UNC Heels beat UNC Niners by one goal

Hellava show ...

NCAA National Champ Runner up

Gold and Silver both considered precious medals

Anonymous said...

It's time for the city of Charlotte to embrace the 49ers as their team. This school needs our support.

I didn't even go there and I support them more than the big 3 in the triangle.

Anonymous said...

The fan support at the game was unreal. I hope some of that support carries over to the basketball games.

What a great weekend for Niner athletics. 7000 strong made the drive to Hoover to watch men's soccer and 7500 made the trip to Halton to watch the Niners defeat Davidson.

Shame we didn't win the national championship, but it was a fun ride.

Kelly said...

I am so proud of the way the Niners played. They had UNC on their heels the whole game. It's a heartbreaking loss, but the tournament run was still incredibly impressive. This Charlotte soccer team should be celebrated as the most successful Charlotte sports team ever.

Anonymous said...

Hope the 49ers head uptown to leverage this experience for their own benefit - maybe a preseason rematch with the Tar Heels at Memorial Stadium? Center City Partners is rehabbing the facility for the Charlotte Eagles and lacrosse, so the timing could be great. Playing the occasional uptown game would do wonders for encouraging the city to better connect with its University.

Anonymous said...

This is a great line: All it takes for a team that's been dominated for an entire game is one moment of magic. Niners dominated, matched the skill level, played harder and were relentless. So were the Charlotte fans!

D Scott - will Charlotte be ranked #2 in the country as a result?

Anonymous said...

Charlotte played great in the tournament. How did they only finish 3rd in the A-10? Were they underachieving during the season or overachieving in the tournament?

Anonymous said...

6 18
Picturing a long dead horse now.

Alex said...

Anon @ 2:56: The Niners took some tough breaks during A-10 play; even though they finished with a solid record of 6-1-2 (20 points - 3 for a win, 1 for a tie, 0 for a loss), Fordham and George Washington both went 7-2-0 (21 points).

Anonymous said...

I remember an old joke that there are only 3 possible final scores of a soccer game - 0-0, 1-0 and 1-1, and if it's 1-1 the press will rip both teams' defenses. Of course it's not really that bad, but I think I have figured out why I don't like soccer. No other sport has final scores that carry such injustice. First the USA women lose the World Cup after beating the crap out of Japan the entire game, then the Niners beat the crap out of UNC-CH for 89:59 and still lose. Particularly infuriating was that the ball never made it out of the Carolina box the last 5 minutes and we still couldn't score.

The only sport that comes close to this level of injustice is NASCAR, where you can lead 499 out of 500 laps and lose to some shmuck who wins on gas mileage.

All that being said, I watched almost the entire game and I was really into it, especially that last big rush. I don't think it's going to turn me into a big soccer fan, but I will definitely follow this team more and hopefully they will bring us that first national championship - if the golf and/or baseball team doesn't get there first. GO NINERS!