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November 9, 2012

Niners win in dramatic fashion

The Charlotte 49ers pulled out a 2-1 win in dramatic fashion against the Duquesne Dukes Thursday night in their Atlantic 10 tournament opener.

Charlotte faithful and Niner Nation poured in with great attendance to watch their 49ers (14-2-3) defeat the Dukes (7-12-1), in a nail-biter that was decided with only 18 seconds remaining.

After two Charlotte attackers went down successively in and around the boundaries of the box, the latter was whistled as a
foul, and set to be a penalty kick.

Niner Nation had been relatively quiet for the majority of the game, due in part to the uncanny play of freshman Duquesne keeper, Sam Frymier. After the foul in the box, with only seconds remaining, the energy of the crowd was quickly restored; All-Atlantic 10 first teamer, Tyler Gibson stepped up to take the penalty kick. The Duquesne keeper sold out right, and Gibson drilled a decisive shot leftward, clinching the No. 13 ranked 49ers spot in the semifinals against No. 21 VCU (11-2-5) Friday night.

This quarterfinal game had a story book ending, but let's not forget the importance of the first goal, coming by way of Jennings Rex in the first minute of play. Starting with the added adrenaline of the
home crowd, the 49ers swarmed the goal immediately after the match was kicked off; possibly catching the Duke's backfield off guard. Giuseppe Gentile set Rex up feet from the corner of the goal where he tapped it in.

Duquesne would strike back with authority in the 14th minute of play. After Aaron Weldon had the ball stolen from him at midfield, the Dukes took advantage of a three-on-two attack. Although the Charlotte defense recovered and forced a shot to go off the left post, an opportunistic Martin Fiemawhle put the second chance shot past Klay Davis for the equalizer.

In the first 45, as both teams settled into their game plans, it became clear Duquesne keeper, Frymier,was going to be tough to crack. As Charlotte was knocking on the door, outshooting the Dukes 10 to 3 in the first half, the most credible attempts came in the last seven minutes of the period. Twice, Frymier saved second chance opportunities from his backside. He seemed like a goal keeper possessed, not because he was just making saves, but because of the fashion in which they were made.

In the end, Charlotte's attack was too much to handle for their opposition, the shot total finished 17 to 5, in favor of the 49ers. After another solid outing from the defenders, and a relentless effort across the pitch, Niner's Head Coach Kevin Langan said, "You can say you're unlucky or you can make your own luck." Speaking about the progressions that led to Gibson's winner.

The Atlantic 10's No. 1 seeded 49ers take on the No. 4 seeded, VCU Rams Friday, at 7:30 pm. This matchup seems, on paper, to be more challenging than the last; considering the Rams took it to Charlotte, 4-1, last time they met in the regular season. Not in the Niners favor of a chance at revenge is the fact that Atlantic 10 Midfielder of the Year, Donnie Smith, missed his second consecutive game Thursday, for unknown reasons.

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