The Charlotte men’s soccer team moved to the top of the C-USA standings with a 2-0 victory over No. 23 South Carolina Friday night at Transamerica Field. The 49ers (7-4-2, 4-0-1) dominated the first half, opening the scoring in the third minute and outshooting the Gamecocks 9-4 before halftime.
With four consecutive wins and five in its last six games, Charlotte coach Kevin Langan said he believes his team is hitting its stride after starting the season with several tough games.
“It’s starting to come together,” Langan said. “You can see how good we look going forward. You can see how solid we look as a team. We’re getting fitter and stronger each game. That’s our third game in eight days, and you can still see us running right until the end.”
After scoring twice in the first 21 minutes, Charlotte keeper Austin Pack and the defense were stout once again, as the 49ers have allowed just nine goals in 13 games this season.
“We want Austin not to have to face very many shots,” Langan said. “We want to pride ourselves in blocked shots, pride ourselves in heading things clear. We want to pride ourselves on being a hard team to play through, or play over, or play down the sides of.”
Charlotte struck first in the third minute, when junior Brandt Bronico converted a free kick after Hans Honer was fouled. Bronico’s kick from the spot soared over the outstretched arms of South Carolina keeper William Pyle to give the 49ers the early lead.
“Right when I hit it, I knew it was a goal,” Bronico said. “It’s huge. It’s devastating for the other team, being down 1-0 in the first five minutes. It really gave us a really big lift.”
Charlotte made it 2-0 when forward Kyle Parker found the back of the net for his eighth goal of the season and fourth in his team’s last four games.
“Kyle is such a humble young man,” Langan said. “We want him to just be more ruthless and shoot more. We just reminded him of that and he went, ‘OK.’ He started to shoot more, and it’s not just his shots; he’s having more shots per game.”