Two years ago yesterday, the Charlotte 49ers’ magical run to the College Cup came to an end. And while it didn’t finish the way Niners fans would have hoped (with a 1-0 loss to North Carolina), it’s a season many will remember for the rest of their lives. (Ask the group of students that went down on #Bus1 and #Bus2.)
Nobody expected Charlotte to win it all when the tournament started on November 17, 2011. Beating Furman? Maybe, which they did 3-1.
But topping 11th seeded UAB in Birmingham? Taking down Akron, the defending champions, at home? Going back on the road, battling third-seeded UConn to a 1-1 draw and winning in penalties?
Surely, second-seeded Creighton would be the ones ending this Cinderella run to the final. Wrong again. That was also a draw, a scoreless one in fact, until the Niners won that one in penalties as well.
Even though they lost to the hated Tar Heels (was it a foul in the box?), the trajectory of the Niners program changed from that day on. While they haven’t made it to the promised land since (back-to-back second round losses–at Georgetown in 2012 and against Coastal Carolina this past season), there’s always that glimmer of hope at the start of each season that, as the team gets better and as a fresh set of recruits come in, it could be the year.