The Charlotte 49ers connected on all four of their penalty kick attempts to keep their season going with a 1-1 decision over Western Kentucky on Wednesday in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA women’s soccer tournament at Transamerica Field.
Senior midfielder Katie O’Neill netted the deciding penalty kick and junior forward Martha Thomas scored the only goal for the No. 6-seeded 49ers (10-8-1), who had lost their last three regular-season matches.
Charlotte will face No. 7-seed Texas-El Paso in the second semifinal game at 7 p.m. Friday at Transamerica Field. Top-seeded North Texas will face No. 4 seed Florida Atlantic at 4:30 p.m in the other semifinal.
The Hilltoppers (12-7), down 1-0 at the half, got the equalizer with about 7 1/2 minutes to play, ending a period of sustained offensive pressure with a goal by senior forward Sarah Gorham. She made a sideline run after taking a pass from forward Iris Dunn and angled a shot that nicked the right goalpost and rolled in.
Dunn hit the crossbar with a rising shot from 16 yards in the last minute as regulation ended 1-1.
After a scoreless — and relatively quiet — first overtime, the 49ers dominated play in the last two minutes of second overtime, with good chances by Thomas and midfielder Rebecca Beatty. The second extra period ended with a frantic flurry of activity in front of the Western Kentucky goal.
Thomas scored the only goal of the first half in the 23rd minute. She took a through ball from forward Megan Greene and chipped it over the head of WKU goalkeeper Allison Leone, who had come out to challenge the play.
The goal made Thomas the first player in 49ers women’s soccer history to have three 10-goal seasons.
No. 4 FLORIDA ATLANTIC 3, No. 5 LOUISIANA TECH 0: Sammy Rowland scored two goals and goalkeeper Sydney Drinkwater recorded a six-save shutout to lead FAU (12-7-2). Louisiana Tech finished 14-7-1.
No. 1 NORTH TEXAS 2, No. 8 OLD DOMINION 1: Rachel Holden scored the game-winner for the Mean Green (16-4-1) on a header in second-half extra time. Grace Haverly scored the only goal for ODU (7-13), which tied the game in the final minute.
No. 7 TEXAS-EL PASO 1, No. 2 RICE 0: Jeanna Mullen scored the game’s only goal in the first half. Goalkeeper Alyssa Palacios recorded seven saves as the Miners (14-6-2) pulled the round’s first upset. Rice fell to 11-6-1.