Charlotte, the 15th-ranked team in the nation, scored the decisive goal in the 73rd minutes to deal No. 12 Coastal Carolina a 2-1 home defeat on Friday evening. The loss was Coastal’s first defeat at the CCU Soccer Field since Charlotte beat the Chanticleers by the same score to open the 2011 season, a run of 19 games.
The win moves Charlotte to 2-1-0 on the young campaign, while the Chanticleers fall to 1-2-0.
Charlotte’s Giuseppe Gentile broke a scoreless tie in the 53rd minute of play of the very physical game. The 49ers Brandt Bronico played a cross into Giuseppe who headed it inside the far post to score his third goal of the season.
Nearly 15 minutes later the Chants found the equalizer off the foot of preseason All-American Pedro Ribeiro. Justin Portillo, as he has done so many times in his career, ignited the scoring play with a corner kick into the box. Newcomer Sergio Camargo chipped Portillo’s kick across the six-yard box to Ribeiro who buried his one-timer into the back netting. The goal was Ribeiro’s first of the season and 21st of his career.
Coastal looked poised to take their first lead in the game when Charlotte’s Aidan Kirkbride scored the eventual game-winner on a counter attack in the 73rd minute. A Chanticleer turnover near midfield sprung the 49ers on the goal. Charlotte’s David Mayer played a ball toward the end line that appeared to be heading into the side netting; however, Monbo Bokar headed the ball back in play toward the right side of the 18-yard box. Kirkbride handled the rest with a sliding shot that deflected off the far post and into the goal.
Coastal pushed forward throughout the remainder of the contest seeking the equalizer, but the stout 49er defense denied the Chants any scoring chances.
Scoring opportunities were at a premium in the first 45 minutes of play as both teams struggled to keep the ball in their respective offensive thirds. Coastal’s Camargo had the best look at a goal in the half, but his well struck shot was gathered in by Charlotte’s Klay Davis.
The chippy and physical game saw the referee reach in his pocket and record six yellow cards -- three on each team. The Chants were whistled for 13 fouls, while the 49ers tallied seven.
Costal finished the contest with a 10-9 advantage in shots and a 4-2 edge in corner opportunities. The 49ers’ Klay picked up a trio of saves and the win to move to 2-1-1 on the season, while Coastal’s Devin Cook recorded two saves and the loss, dropping to 1-2-0.
Coastal returns to the pitch on Tuesday, Sept. 10 at 6 p.m., hosting in-state rival South Carolina. The Chanticleers defeated the Gamecocks in Columbia last season as Ricky Garbanzo netted his first career hat trick in the 3-2 victory.