It’s been four years since the Charlotte women’s soccer team last played in the championship game of its conference tournament.
This year’s senior class would like that trend to shift.
On Nov. 5-9, the Conference USA Championships will be held at Transamerica Field, marking the first time since 2003 that Charlotte welcomes the C-USA tournament. The 49ers last hosted a conference tournament in 2009 when they were a member of the Atlantic 10.
“It’s going to mean a lot to us since it will be our way of going out our senior year,” said senior midfielder Amanda Jones. “We’re ready to host, to show off our nice facilities because we definitely have one of the nicest places in the country for sure. We’re excited to have a chance to win it at home.”
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It was in 2010 when Charlotte played Dayton in the Atlantic 10 tournament finals in Kingston, R.I. The 49ers lost to the Flyers in double overtime 4-3.
Current Charlotte seniors Jennifer Lee and Taylor Dulaney were on the roster in 2010, but neither played in the tournament final. Lee played in just four games as a freshman and Dulaney redshirted that season.
In 2009, current coach John Cullen’s first year at Charlotte, the 49ers lost to the Flyers in the tournament final 2-1 on their home field.
Charlotte and Dayton also met in the 2008 A-10 final. The 49ers’ 1-0 victory marks the last time they won a conference tournament championship and advanced to the NCAA, duplicating their feat of 2007.
There’s some added pressure for Charlotte to perform well in this season’s conference tournament: The 49ers were picked to be the C-USA champions in the coaches’ pre-season poll.
The top eight teams out of the 14-team league will qualify for the tournament. Heading into its final regular season game – an Oct. 30 home contest vs. Middle Tennessee – Charlotte had not yet clinched a spot.
The 49ers were coming off a disastrous couple games that closed their road schedule. A 5-0 loss at North Texas and a 4-1 defeat to Rice left Charlotte in a tie for seventh place with Louisiana Tech.
With most conference teams finishing their seasons on the same night, there were scenarios in which the 49ers could still make the tournament while not winning their final game.
“Our focus is trying to get as many points as we can,” said Cullen. “When you get into the tournament you want to get good seeding. We haven’t hosted it in a while, but having the chance to host it again, we want to be successful. We don’t just want to be great hosts.”
Charlotte is capable of playing good soccer. From Sept. 17 through Oct. 12, the 49ers won six of eight contests, with both losses being by one goal.
“We’ve had an up-and-down season but playing on our home field makes us energized and ready to go,” said senior midfielder Sara Trexler. “We’re looking forward to showing people what we have.”
Through 16 games, freshman forward Martha Thomas was leading Charlotte in both goals (nine) and assists (five).
Charlotte’s men’s soccer team was ranked No. 7 in the NSCAA Coaches poll and No. 5 in the NCAA RPI computer rankings on Oct. 28. The 49ers were also ranked near the top in several national offensive statistical categories.
Entering its final non-conference game on Oct. 28, Charlotte had an 11-2-1 record.
The women’s volleyball team nearly upset Texas-San Antonio, C-USA’s first place team, losing to the Roadrunners in five sets on Oct. 26. The 49ers had a 13-15 overall record entering the Oct. 31 match at Florida Atlantic.