In a thrilling showdown at the American Athletic Conference Championship, Charlotte Men’s Soccer showcased resilience in the face of a hostile SMU home crowd. The 49ers, undeterred on the turf in Dallas, Texas, pulled off a stunning upset, defeating the No. 2 ranked SMU 2-1 to seize the conference title. This victory marks the third in the program’s history, a remarkable achievement for the team.
Head Coach Kevin Langan commended his players, expressing pride in their performance against a formidable opponent. “Obviously, SMU, a great team, pushed back, but we played very well today,” said Langan.
Brandon Morales emerged as the hero for Charlotte (12-3-1), securing the game-winning goal with an impressive volley in the 55th minute. Goalkeeper Leonard Stritter delivered an outstanding performance, making five crucial saves (tying his season-high), with the only goal conceded to SMU (13-2-2) coming from a penalty. The Charlotte back line, featuring Ian Pilcher and his 22nd-minute goal that initiated the scoring, stood resilient against SMU’s onslaught, which included 15 shots and eight corner kicks.
Morales reflected on the team’s journey, emphasizing the spirit, grit, and dedication that fueled their success. “It took a lot of spirit, grit,” said Morales. “It took dedication. We’ve been on a journey these past 13 weeks.”
In the 48-year history of the Niners, this victory marks their third conference tournament title and the first since claiming the Conference USA crown in 2013, coincidentally Coach Langan’s inaugural season at the helm.
By clinching the AAC tournament, Charlotte secures an automatic berth into the NCAA Men’s Soccer Championships. The team eagerly awaits the revelation of their opponent on Monday, Nov. 13, when the bracket is unveiled at 1 p.m. ET. This marks the Green & White’s 10th appearance in the NCAA Tournament under the guidance of Coach Langan.