After losing a halftime lead, the Charlotte 49ers spent most of rest of their second-round NCAA men’s soccer tournament match with Virginia Tech “chasing the game,” coach Kevin Langan said.
They eventually caught up to it, but not long enough to avoid a season-ending 3-2 loss Sunday afternoon in front of a crowd of 1,023 at Transamerica Field.
Freshman forward Nico Quashie scored the game-winning goal with about 2 1/2 minutes to play for the Hokies (12-4-4), who advance to a third round game with Indiana – date and location to be determined.
Sophomore forward Daniel Bruce scored a goal and recorded an assist for the 49ers (12-4-2), who entered the game with a No. 10 national seed and received a first-round bye. Senior midfielder Brandt Bronico scored the other goal for Charlotte with about 7 1/2 minutes to play to tie the score at 2-2.
“At that point, I thought we had figured some things out, and I hoped we would get out of the chasing mode,” Langan said. “But they scored three goals and we scored two. We had one of the best regular seasons in our history and we should still be playing, but that’s the game for you.”
The second meeting of the season between the two teams was a big contrast from the first – a scoreless draw on Oct. 18 in Blacksburg, Va.
The 49ers gained an early advantage on Bruce’s goal in the 19th minute, when he left-footed a rebound off his own blocked header past Virginia Tech goalkeeper Ben Lundgaard. That goal stood up at halftime, as Charlotte kept the play in the Hokies’ end of the pitch for most of the first 45 minutes.
But things turned Tech’s way in the second half, as senior forward Marcelo Acuna scored twice in the first 15 minutes. Acuna netted a penalty kick in the 50th minute after the 49ers were called for a hand ball in the 18-yard box and netted another shot from the six-yard box 10 minutes later.
“In the first half we were so in control and it could have been 2-0, 3-0,” Langan said. “The penalty was soft and we didn’t respond well. They got a bit of momentum that we could have dealt with better.”
Bronico’s equalizer, his team-leading ninth goal of the season, came from about 10 yards out off a cross from Bruce at the end line. But the tie was short-lived as Quashie – who scored his only other goal of the season in Tech’s 1-0 first round win Thursday over East Tennessee State – took a through ball for a sideline run and rolled a shot inside the far post.