CHARLOTTE, N.C. – With the score tied 1-1 match in the fading seconds of a second and final overtime, Elis Bjornsson collected a loose ball in the box and hammered home a golden goal, giving No. 9/11 Coastal Carolina a thrilling 2-1 win over No. 21 Charlotte at the 49ers’ Transamerica Field.
Ricky Garbanzo sent a corner kick into the box with 17 seconds to play in double overtime; the ball bounced around the box before settling at the foot of Shawn McLaws who ripped a shot on goal. Charlotte’s Austin Pack made a diving save on McLaws’ shot, but was unable to control the ball. The ball bounced out to Bjornsson who connected on a shot that would settle in the right side of the net and give the Chants the victory with a mere seven seconds showing on the clock.
The match, which was a physical affair with a total of 27 fouls whistled and eight yellow cards, was Coastal’s third on the road against a top-25 opponent in the 2014 season’s opening eight days. The Chants closed the grueling road trip with a 2-1-0 record. Charlotte dropped to 1-1-0 with the defeat. The win was Coastal’s second consecutive against the 49ers and gave the Chants a 6-4-1 lead in the all-time series.
For the third time in as many games, the Chanticleers fell behind on the scoreboard in the first half of play. The 49ers’ Monbo Bokar counted the scoring strike in the 31st minute off a Kyle Parker assist. An errant Coastal pass out of the back was intercepted by Park who dribbled into the box before sliding a pass over to his unmarked teammate. Bokar took one touch before squeezing the ball past CCU’s Devin Cook-Perales and inside the left post.
The 49ers lead would not last long as the high-powered Chanticleer attack moved into high gear after the Charlotte goal. It took the Chants only 2:46 to level the match at 1-1. Martin Melchor provided the counter after Kevin Le Bras sprung him behind the 49er defense. Le Bras used a bit of fancy footwork to beat a trio of Charlotte defenders on the right side of the ’18. The senior finished with a chip to Melchor whose shot inside the left post for his first collegiate goal.
Neither team would find the much in the attack for the remainder of the half, leaving the team knotted at 1-1 after 45 minutes of play.
The second was a battle of back and forth play between two contrasting styles. The Chants attempted to use combination play to make their way toward the goal, while Charlotte relied heavily on its counter attack and playing balls into space and trying to get in behind the Coastal defense. Both styles had their moments as both sides had five shots during the second 45 minutes of play.
After playing level for 90 minutes, the overtime sessions belonged to the Chanticleers. Coastal owned a 7-2 advantage in shots and out-cornered the 49ers in the extra time.
Coastal’s Devin Cook-Perales put forth an eight-save performance to earn the win and improve to 2-1-0 on the year. However, Cook-Perales was not the on Chant to make a key save on the evening. Ridge Robinson headed a ball off the line following a Charlotte corner with six minutes to play in regulation, preserving the 1-1 tie.
Coastal finished the contest with a 16-13 overall advantage in shots, while Charlotte earned six corner opportunities to the Chants’ four.
Coastal opens in front of its home fans at the CCU Soccer Stadium at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 12, hosting Furman. The Chants and Paladins last played to a 3-3 draw in Conway during the 2009 season. The all-time series between the two Palmetto state institutions is tied at 2-2-1.