Klay Davis, Thomas Allen and Anthony Perez still have more than a month left in their final season as members of the Charlotte 49ers soccer team.
But the three seniors who anchor the 49ers’ defense have already built a legacy that strengthens with each shot they stop and each victory they help Charlotte record.
Through Sept. 30, Charlotte held a 4-3-1 record and had posted four shutouts.
For the first three years of their playing careers, Davis, a goalkeeper, and Allen and Perez, defenders, were key elements in stringing together one of the strongest defensive periods in program history.
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From 2010 through 2012, the 49ers allowed only 54 goals. That’s the lowest total for any three-year period in the program’s 37 seasons.
This season, Charlotte has surrendered six goals for an average of 0.75 goal per game.
Kevin Langan served as a Charlotte assistant coach for two years before he was named head coach last season. He has been instrumental in transforming the team’s style of play.
“If you look at the progression of the team since I’ve been here,” Langan said, “it’s become a strength how we pass the ball and how we keep the ball.
“When I first got here, we were a team more about being in good shape and breaking. Now we’re a team who wants to be on the front foot, wants to have the ball, wants to be asking questions of the opponent.”
Both Davis and Perez entered UNC Charlotte in 2009 but were redshirted their first year. Allen, a graduate of Charlotte’s Providence High, joined the team as a freshman the following year. All three were in the starting lineup when Charlotte lost to North Carolina in the 2011 College Cup championship game.
Last season, Davis and Allen were named to the all-Atlantic 10 first team and the National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s all-Mid-Atlantic Region second team.
Entering this season, Davis had the best career goals-against average (0.78) in school history.
The 49ers finished 15-4-3 last season, posting nine shutouts and allowing 19 goals. Seven of eight defenders returned to this year’s team.
“We have a lot of guys with experience on this team,” Allen said. “Two years ago we went to the College Cup, so there’s nothing we’ll face this year that we haven’t faced before.
“Having that experience helps us be tighter a group – tighter as a defense and tighter as a team – and it helps us win.”
The defensive unit includes starters Biko Bradnock-Brennan (sophomore) and Luke Waechter (redshirt freshman) and key reserves Nick Barnhorst (redshirt sophomore) and David Mayer (junior). They realize that the offense can be just as instrumental in keeping the scores low. If the 49ers have the ball on offense, there’s nothing to defend.
“I know a lot of people think the shutouts just come from the back four,” Perez said. “But the whole team is how we defend, from the middle four to the front two. A lot of people give us credit – the backs and the keeper, the whole defense – but we’re a cohesive unit that works really hard, all the way from Klay to the forwards up top.”
Charlotte’s next game is Oct. 9 at home against Old Dominion.
49ers women 2nd, men 3rd at Charlotte Invitational
The women’s cross-country team placed second among 30 teams and the men’s team finished third in a field of 27 at the Charlotte Invitational Sept. 28 at McAlpine Creek Park.
In the women’s race, graduate student Kim Spano of Huntersville finished fourth individually, running the 6-kilometer course in 21 minutes, 35 seconds. Redshirt senior Maraya Slatter was close behind, placing sixth in 21:38.
In the men’s event, junior Zach Greth was the top Charlotte finisher on the 10K course, placing fifth in 25:28. Running 11th in 25:40 was redshirt senior Ross Roberson.
“Great weather and great performances all around,” Charlotte coach Ed Schlichter said. “Today was pretty darn good, and I’m so proud of these kids,”
Mississippi State captured both the women’s and men’s team titles. The North Florida men finished second.
First football homecoming game Oct. 12
UNC Charlotte will have its first football homecoming game Oct. 12 when it hosts UNC Pembroke.
Homecoming used to be celebrated in conjunction with a men’s basketball game.
Homecoming events start Oct. 11 with an Alumni Association golf tournament and several on-campus activities, including a hot dog-eating contest, a lights parade and a pep rally. The homecoming celebration will conclude with a Family Fun Fest at the N.C. Music Factory in uptown Charlotte.
For more information, visit homecoming/uncc.edu/events.