[CONNECTICUT-CHARLOTTE] Charlotte upset No. 3 seed Connecticut with a shootout win before a sell-out crowd of 5,100 fans in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Men's Tournament.
The loss marked the third year in a row the Huskies were eliminated on penalty kicks. This year's loss was particularly tough as UConn had taken the lead in the 82nd minute but could not hold on for the win. The 49ers scored three minutes later to equalize 1-1.
Instead, Charlotte moves on to the Men's College Cup, where it will face Creighton, a 1-0 overtime winner over USF.
“We had the game won," said UConn coach Ray Reid. "It’s unconscionable that we’re home, up a goal with eight minutes to go, and we blow it. Honestly, in a game like this, our top players have got to play better."
Senior All-American Tony Cascio put UConn ahead on a tremendous volley from 18 yards out in the 82nd minute but less than three minutes later Atlantic-10 Rookie of the Year Giuseppe Gentile equalized, sliding home Tyler Gibson's pass for his 10th goal of the season.
Charlotte won the shootout 4-2 as UConn sophomores Mamadou Doudou Diouf and Michael Mercado both missed their attempts
UConn had come into the game with a 17-0-0 record when it scored the first goal.
Gibson, Donnie Smith, Isaac Cowles and Charles Rodriguez converted on the 49ers penalty kicks.
"Over the past couple of years, we did not advance on after going to a penalty shootout and it has been a thorn in our side," said Charlotte coach Jeremy Gunn said. "We have been practicing shootouts since last year. We showed great composure and converted the penalty kicks to put us into the College Cup.”
Gunn praised the 49ers' composure to come back after giving up a goal in the 82nd minute.
"When they scored in a game with few chances," he said, "it was a tough task for our players. Time and again this year, this group has the belief and they got ability, fitness and desire to come back. We kept pushing. Tyler Gibson knocks the ball across the goal. Giuseppe Gentile buries another one off a great pass from Gibson and Aaron Weldon."
Dec. 4 in Storrs, Conn.
Connecticut 1 Charlotte 1 (Charlotte wins 4-2 on penalties). Goals: Cascio 5 (Alvarez) 82; Gentile 10 (Gibson, Weldon) 85.
Connecticut -- A.Blake, Mercado, N.Blake, Jean-Baptiste, Weir, Sanchez, Diop, Bradley, Alvarez, Cascio, Diouf. Subs: Grosvenor, Matheson, Liu.
Charlotte -- Davis, Weldon, Cowles, Rodriguez, Allen, Kirkbride, James, Gentile, Thomas, Darby, Gibson. Subs: Beaulieu, Dawson, Rex, Smith.
Referee: Misail Tsapos.