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October 20, 2012

Charlotte runs past UMass

UMass @ Charlotte box score

The Charlotte 49ers had no trouble in a 4-0 defeat over Massachusetts Minutemen Friday night at Transamerica field.

Five games in to Atlantic 10 play this season, and the 49ers (9-2-3, 3-1-1) are looking more impressive than ever. After having their only defeats during a road stint that lasted more than four weeks, the team is thriving back home in front of Niner Nation.

Both of their opponents this weekend are under .500, Massachusetts (4-7-2, 1-3) and Rhode Island (2-8-3, 1-2-1). Just looking at records the Niners are obvious favorites, but don't tell that to Charlotte Coach Kevin Langan. He has made it an initiative this season to throw records and rankings out the door, proving that the 49ers soccer culture is changing from prior seasons success. When asked about being ranked No. 12 in the first unveiling of the RPI standings this week, Coach Langan reiterated, "For the first time in our program's history, we don't talk about rankings."

The lone goal in the first 45 belonged to Owen Darby, in the 27th minute. After a previous scoring attack was stopped, Will Mayhew led a pass to Isaac Caughran, who fought past his defender to the right side of the end line. He sent a leftward roller to the center of the box, set up perfectly for Darby who took advantage of an out of place goal keeper. Darby ripped the kick into the middle of the net from ten yards out for his first score of the season.

Darby wasn't finished, as he had a similar score in the 70th minute. Donnie Smith started the attack with a skillful heel pass to Giuseppe Gentile, and as Gentile dribbled towards the Minutemen goal, drawing the keeper to the left post, he connected a short pass to Darby on his right. Darby quickly bent a shot to the right post, for the game's second score.

Shortly after that goal, the Minutemen broke down defensively and the 49ers home run hitter, Gentile, struck twice, taking advantage of defensive miscues.

With two scores, 73rd and 89th minute, Gentile out-hustled the UMass backline. His first was a sprinting header, from a lengthy Aaron Weldon cross.

After that, Jeremy Dennis sent Gentile a pass he received on the run. Splitting two defenders down the middle of the box, Gentile showed quick footwork sneaking the ball around the right side of the Minutemen keeper, who had pulled out of goal to stop the pursuit. The home crowd celebrated as they watched the final score roll into an open goal.

In the last two outings, the 49ers have had three players with multiple-goal games. With Jennings Rex scoring twice against La Salle last weekend, along with Gentile and Darby finding net two times on Friday, Charlotte has scoring threats all over the pitch. Coach Langan said about his team's scoring, "They have done really well, what's pleasing tonight and the past few games, is that we've got the goals we deserved, and we've done lots of work in training, and we look like we have several ways to score now ."

It would be a disservice not to mention the defensive domination Charlotte has displayed recently. Klay Davis now has four consecutive clean sheets. Coach Langan mentioned his defense is playing with much better depth as of late, staying tight and disciplined when threatened by opponents.

Impressive is the team's unselfish play, Charlotte's chemistry has carried over from last season and is benefiting them in multiple facets of the game. Instead of attempting difficult shots and hoping some go in, the 49ers seem to look for that extra pass to ensure scores.

The Charlotte faithful came out to support their soccer team as they always do, in good numbers, but Friday night's game was unique. The Niners donned pink jerseys to represent breast cancer awareness. The jerseys worn during the game were part of a silent auction for fans, along with donations; all proceeds went to the Dig Pink initiative that originated on campus with the Charlotte Volleyball team.

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