Knocked Off Reigning Champion Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Tyler Gibson’s penalty kick in the 88th minute was the game’s only goal and gave the Charlotte 49ers their first Conference USA men’s tournment chmpionship in their first year back in the league.
It was good for a 1-0 win over reigning tournament champion Tulsa.
“It’s amazing and great,” said 49ers coach Kevin Langan. “I am proud of the way the guys played over the last three games. A lot of heart and courage.”
Charlotte entered the tournament as the #6 seed.
With 2:32 left in regulation, David Mayer was taken down just inside the Tulsa penalty box, and Gibson, Charlotte’s all-time penalty kick taker, buried a low line drive into the left side of the net.
“He has probably practiced every day over the past five years,” said Langan. “I knew he was going to hit it well and put it where he wanted it to go. It was up to the keeper to save it.”
The win was the eighth straight for Charlotte, going back to Oct. 19 against Kentucky. The 49ers allowed only two goals during that span, a goal against Clemson and an own goal in the quarterfinals win over UAB.
This marks the second conference tournament title in program history. Charlotte defeated Old Dominion in a six OT victory during the 1983 Sun Belt Conference tournament championship.
In the semifinal, the 49ers defeated the Wildcats of Kentucky for the second time this season, 1-0 on freshman Brandt Bronico’s (High Point, NC) late first-half goal. The Wildcats had upset #2 seeded ODU 1-0 in overtime in their quarterfinal match.
The goal was Bronico’s third of the season and his first game-winner. Gibson, Bronico, Thomas Allen and Giuseppe Gentile were selected to the all-tournament team.
Gibson has been chosen as one of the 50 college seniors who have been invited to the 2014 adidas MLS Player Combine, Jan. 10-14 in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
Charlotte, which reached the 2011 College Cup championship game where they lost to UNC in Hoover, Ala., saw the season come to an end in the second round of the NCAA postseason.
They lost 1-0 behind a bye to the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers to finish the year 12-6-3.
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