Friday, May 25, 2012

Wrapping up the Charlotte 49ers' 2011-12 sports year

With the exception of track and field, which is competing in NCAA regionals this weekend, the 2011-12 athletic year has concluded for the Charlotte 49ers. Here's a wrap-up:

Story of the year: The 49ers were invited to join Conference USA after a 10-year absence -- and this time as full, football-playing members. The decision fast-tracks Charlotte into college football's big time. The 49ers don't start playing football until 2013, but will be playing on the FBS level in 2015. Hang on to your hats.

Team of the year: Hmm. Let's see. Guess we'll go with men's soccer. Who else could it be?

The unseeded 49ers went on a memorable postseason run, finally losing in the College Cup championship game 1-0 to North Carolina before a strongly pro-Charlotte crowd in Hoover, Ala. It was the first time a 49ers team had played for a national title and they came oh-so close to tying the game late when a flurry of shots on the Tar Heels goal just missed. Whether Donnie Smith was fouled -- or from my standpoint, whether it occurred inside or outside the penalty box -- will be debated by college soccer fans for years. The 49ers lost their coach, though, when Jeremy Gunn resigned a few weeks later to go to Stanford. Seniors Charles Rodriguez, Isaac Cowles and Evan James were all either drafted or got tryouts with MLS teams. James stuck with the Montreal Impact; Cowles is playing for the USL's Charlotte Eagles.

Male athlete of the year: Soccer's Rodriguez capped a sterling four-year career by leading the 49ers to the College Cup finals, earning first-team All-American honors along the way. Rodriguez's clinching penalty kick against UConn that sent Charlotte to the College Cup was one of the season's signature moments.

Female athlete of the year: This is a tough one, so I'll take the easy way out and make it a tie between basketball's Jen Hailey and softball's Briana Gwaltney. Hailey led the Atlantic 10 in rebounding and blocked shots; Gwaltney, just a junior, has already set the school career record for home runs and led the league in homers and total bases.

Male rookie of the year: OK, so I can't make a decision. Men's basketball Pierria Henry started at point guard all season and was among the nation's leaders in steals. He brought a toughness to Charlotte that had been sorely lacking. Soccer's Giussi Gentile was named Soccer America magazine's freshman of the year. Golf's Raoul Menard was medalist at the Atlantic 10 tournament. That's a strong rookie class.

Female rookie of the year: T'Sheila Mungo was the A-10's indoor rookie of the year and is at the outdoor regionals this weekend in the the 400; 4x400 and as a 4x100 alternate.

Male coach of they year: Soccer's Gunn. Successor Kevin Langan has big shoes to fill.

Female coach of the year: Track and field's Bob Olesen has built a program (men's, as well) that has dominated the Atlantic 10. Conference USA will be another kind of challenge, however.

Team-by-team roundup

Cross-country: The women's team finished third in the A-10 meet, led by senior Amanda Goetschius, who was third individually. The men were ninth.

Women's soccer: A down year by 49ers standards. Charlotte was 7-10-4 and lost in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament to Dayton. Striker Amanda Jones had a strong freshman season.

Men's soccer: See above.

Volleyball: Charlotte finished 13-14, with junior Bianca Rouse making second-team all-conference.

Men's basketball: The 49ers finished 13-17, 5-11 in the league and lost in the first round of the conference tournament to Saint Joseph's. Three starters -- Henry, center Chris Braswell and forward DeMario Mayfield -- return, with some freshmen who could make an immediate impact.

Women's basketball: The 49ers (16-14) made the WNIT -- again. Hailey and Amanda Dowe formed one of the league's top front courts and Hillary Sigmon made the all-freshman team.

Baseball: A down season (21-32) for the 49ers, who didn't even qualify for the conference tournament. Shane Brown won the conference batting title (.365), though.

Softball: Led by Gwaltney, the 49ers finished 29-26 and made it to the league tournament. Alex Rogers and Lexi Betancourt made the league's all-rookie team.

Tennis: Both the men's and women's teams had strong regular seasons and played at the new Halton-Wagner Tennis Complex. The men won the Atlantic 10 regular season, but lost in the tournament semifinals. Freshman Alex Calott (Ardrey Kell High) won 18 singles matches and four 49ers -- Calott, Kamil Khalil, Jack Williams and Paul Cisti -- made the six-player all-conference team. Freshman Natsuko Takayanagi was 22-6 for the women, who also lost in the league tournament semis. 

Golf: The 49ers' six-year dominance of the Atlantic 10 ended when they finished second to George Washington in a rain-shortend league tournament, in which Menard was medalist. The 49ers did qualify once again for the NCAA regionals, however.

Track and field: Charlotte swept the women's indoor and outdoor conference championships this season, while the men won the outdoor and were runners-up indoor. The list of standouts is long, but women's is led by Mungo and sprinter Joann Blakney and, on the men's side, Cordell Livingston, the school-record holder in the 400 hurdles.

Keep checking in on the Gold Mine over the summer, I'll be updating as news and events warrant. Otherwise, see you in the fall when, believe it or not, there will football practice on which to report.


Bruce said...

UNCC mens soccer the best team? I have to agree (even though they lost to the Mighty Mighty Tar Heels in the NCAA Championship game)! The basketball team is a complete joke, and the soon-to-be doormat of Conference USA. Just sayin'

Anonymous said...

Bruce the pathetic troll is back. Now give momma her internet back and head to your shift at Wal Mart.

Just sayin'

Anonymous said...

The UNCC 49ers soccer team was the best in the state. The UNCCH Tarheels was 2nd best. Sometimes the best comes in 2nd by a fluke.

Bruce said...

Have you see the UNCC Cheerleaders latey? All I can say is "WOW!" Not sure who has the better squad between UNCC or Duke...Bawhahahahaha

Anonymous said...

ECU will OWN Conference U.S.A.

Anonymous said...

Great wrap-up.

The best doesn't always take home the trophy with a one game final, but that is Futbol. Best in the country rather than best in the state.

Anonymous said...

He just had to cut and paste the men's basketball part from last season's warp-up.

Anonymous said...

The UNCC Men's soccer story was amazing last year. UNC Chapel Hill has a storied soccer program that's internationally known and has regularly produced top players throughout the years. The fact the 49er's were able to make a run at them (and defeat a host of similar top schools along the way)is an amazing underdog story that I hope is the start of our own proud soccer heritage-to-be here in Charlotte. Plenty of soccer fans here with no team to route for., Amazing and sad. Thank you 49er's for giving fans of soccer in Charlotte something to cheer for. What a great ride.

Anonymous said...

What is so great about UNCC 49ers soccer team is that "UNCC" is the CORRECT birth name given to it in the NC Legislature in March 1965.

By adhering to the CORRECT name of UNCC is gives equal credit to the UNC system and the taxpayers of the state plus gives equal credit to the city of Charlotte.

Bastardizing the name shows a lack of respect for not only the University of North Carolina system and the LAW but also for all the taxpayers who fund it and the other 15 schools.

Rose and her Rock Hill Eagles is solely responsible. Obviously she never tried to call the sport department at Winthrop in Rock Hill as "Rock Hill Eagles" because she knows it is a slanderous contemptous way to insult a school and alumni who many have paid 100s of 1000s in support over the years.

UNCC 49ers is CORRECT !!!!!!!!

Give credit where credit is due and this is to UNC and Charlotte. Its not a one way street one sided system.
You are making a UNC school look bad and the butt of jokes.


Landen said...

People really have a problem with how fast we are growing, I came to UNCC for a track meet as a freshman in highschool and I knew right then this is where I wanted to go. Everyone cant get into UNC and Wake, barely anyone from NC goes to DUKE. So the next tier was easy App is great but not diverse at all. ECU is great but I would party till I caught an STD. UNCW enough said, Charlotte is
Diverse, has a big city to roam for those who love to do other things than college stuff and You feel like you know everyone on a Campus of 25,0000 students. We are on the rise and nothing you guys can say will ever bother us UNCC alumni.

Go Niners

Anonymous said...

Great wrap up, thanks David.

Anonymous said...

University of (nc) Charlotte.

Soon to drop the (nc)

Anonymous said...

David, why do you always refer to the soccer team as "unseeded"? They were ranked all season, and in the top 10 part of the season.

Anonymous said...

The only way the UNCC 49er name for all departments can be changed is with approval of the UNC system in Chapel Hill 16 schools and Board of Directors plus the NC Legislature.

After 47 years as UNCC 49ers and the billions state taxpayers have forked out there is a snowballs chance in hell of that ever happening in a million yrs.

It is currently illegal to use any other name but UNCC 49ers by law and the Rock Hill Eagles grad AD is walking a tight rope. Maybe she will be arrested not for illegal impropriatary intellectual property name usage but for impersonating a Div One Athletic Director.

The entire 1000 acre campus sits on state property and is owned lock stock and barrel by the state regulated by the Raleigh state capital and UNC system BOA.
UNCC 49ers has a Board of Directors but they have pseudo discretionary power.

Anonymous said...

A room with padded walls is calling your name.

Anonymous said...

HMMmmm, No UNCC there...
Get with the times buddy. This aint the 1700s. Mitt Romney isnt gonna come and arrest Judy Rose. Go read a history book. Psycho.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:28 must be a real work of art. UNCC does have its own Board of Trustees, Directors, etc. They can name the school and/or the athletics teams any thing they want to.

The official name for UNC-Chapel Hill is UNC-Chapel Hill. NC State's official actually contains "UNC Raleigh" in the name. App State, ECU, etc are all part of the UNC programm and like Charlotte, they are all run by their own board of Trustees.

Anonymous said...

A tie for male rookie of the year between Henry and Gentile? C'mon, man. It's Gentile by a mile. No team came anywhere near the men's soccer team for success this year, not even the vaunted golf and track teams. I expect Gentile to lead us back to the final four, and possibly even a national championship, before he moves on the MLS.