Playing overtime is not an uncommon occurrence for the Charlotte 49ers men’s soccer team.
Over the past five seasons, more than one-third of Charlotte’s games (33 of 98) have gone to OT. The 49ers have managed to exceed that percentage this season, going to overtime five times in 12 games.
The 49ers (4-5-3, 0-3-2 Conference USA) are in a stretch in which they’ve played four consecutive overtime games. Their latest challenge to hold a game to a mere 90 minutes comes Saturday, when the 49ers are host to Kentucky at 7 p.m. in a Conference USA game at Transamerica Field (the Wildcats are men’s soccer members only in the league).
The 49ers have gone 0-2-2 in this stretch, tying Wake Forest 1-1 and New Mexico 0-0, and losing to Old Dominion 3-2 and Tulsa 3-2.
And not being able to win those kinds of games has been the major reason why a season that began with much promise is now teetering on the brink.
The 49ers are in ninth place in the 10-team Conference USA with two points. The top seven teams advance to the league’s tournament scheduled for Nov. 13-17 at Transamerica Field.
“We’re looking good in these games,” said Langan. “But we’re not being good, if that makes sense.”
All five of Charlotte’s losses have come by one goal. Toughest to swallow for Langan was a 2-1 defeat (in regulation, no less) to South Carolina, in which the 49ers outshot the Gamecocks 21-6, as well as the nationally televised OT loss against Old Dominion, in which Charlotte allowed the Monarchs to score a tying goal off a hastily taken corner kick with one second left in the first half.
“It’s the final little part, the game management,” said Langan. “It’s hard to replicate those things in training, to see things through the last couple of seconds. But we’ve got to tidy things up. We can’t afford to let those kinds of things happen again. Losing games like that are tough lessons.”
Langan says he’s not thinking about the possibility of not being able to participate in a league tournament his own school will host. A victory against Kentucky (4-6-1, 1-1-1, four points) would be a move in the right direction.
“We don’t worry about the future, we worry about the now,” said Langan, whose team plays a nonconference game against ninth-ranked Clemson next Tuesday at Transamerica Field. “But, sure, it’s going to be tough on us to get there. There will be pressure, but no more than usual. We just have to perform.”
Langan said the availability of leading scorer Giuseppe Gentile (five goals, two assists) will likely be a game-time decision Saturday. Gentile sprained his ankle against ODU and didn’t play against Tulsa.
• Charlotte isn’t the only team in the Carolinas that has played several overtime games. Appalachian State (3-3-6) has gone to overtime seven times, with a record of 1-0-6. North Carolina (4-2-5) has also played seven overtime games, going 1-1-5.
• Huge game on Saturday in Southern Conference, where 25th-ranked Elon (10-2-1, 2-1) plays at Furman (9-1-2, 1-0-2). The Paladins are coming off a 2-1 victory Tuesday at Clemson and are unbeaten in their last 10 games.
• Charlotte’s women (8-4-2, 2-2-2) play three of their final four games at home, beginning with a C-USA contest Friday against Alabama-Birmingham (9-4-2, 2-2-1). The 49ers play host to Marshall and Florida Atlantic next weekend before finishing the regular season at ODU on Oct. 31. The league tournament is Nov. 4-10 at Rice.
• Gardner-Webb’s Denzel Clarke scored three times in six minutes in a 6-1 victory against Presbyterian on Tuesday. Clarke’s 11 goals ties for most in a single season in Gardner-Webb’s Division I history.
Scott: 704-358-5889; Twitter: @davidscott14
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