Despite clearly outplaying what had previously been considered the best team in the country, the Charlotte 49ers were edged by the North Carolina Tar Heels 1-0 in the NCAA National Championship on Sunday night. The Niners, who were representing the Charlotte men's soccer program in its first national championship game in school history, conclude their outstanding season with a 16-5-4 record.
"We couldn't have asked for anything more in the game," head coach Jeremy Gunn said. "We kept an incredible attacking team quiet. We kept getting great chances. The simple fact in the game is they scored a fantastic goal to win the game and we did everything but. We are so proud of the players, everybody that watched the game could see what we put into it. On another day, it may have been a different outcome... Today, it just wasn't meant to be."
North Carolina's Ben Speas scored the match's only goal in the 65th minute of action to lift the Heels to victory. His unassisted tally was a beauty, coming off a left-footed shot that curled in under the crossbar from 25 yards out.
Both before and after the goal, it was the Niners who controlled the match from both halves of the field.
"[UNC] got the #1 seed, but we weren't scared of them," senior Charles Rodriguez said. "We haven't really been scared of a team this entire season. I guess it was important for us to really take the throttle and go at them as much as we could. We fed off each other's energy, but unfortunately the result didn't go our way."
Photo by Dave Martin.