Niner Nation shows support

[MEN'S COLLEGE CUP] National championships are nothing new to North Carolina -- after all, Anson Dorrance's women have 20 NCAA titles in 30 years -- but Charlotte has never won an NCAA title, making Sunday's Division I men's championship game a big deal to the Niner Nation. A section of students decked out in green and seated behind the Charlotte goal gave the final plenty of atmosphere and they didn't stop chanting until the final whistle in the 49ers' heartbreaking loss to UNC.

It was all possible because the UNC Charlotte Student Government Association approved a request for $9,000 from the student activity's reserve fund to bus students to the final.

It followed a march by Charlotte students to the home of Chancellor Philip Dubois to seek financial help.

“It was phenomenal, as anybody who was out here watching, you could probably hear it on TV," said Charlotte defender Isaac Cowles, the Men's College Cup Defensive MVP of the student support. "They were loud all the way through. I couldn’t even hear a Carolina fan. All I heard was Charlotte. I just want to say a big thanks, because I know the chancellor bused a bunch of kids down, because the students couldn’t pay for it. They were just phenomenal today. They were there for us and I loved it. It was amazing.”

Strong student support has been the key to the surge in interest in the men's college game.

Programs such as UC Santa Barbara, Connecticut, Maryland and Akron have drawn large crowds.

The Charlotte support has been solid.

The 49ers drew a record 4,038 fans for an exhibition against North Carolina in August and averaged 1,542 fans for nine home dates during the season.

Not bad for a program didn't have a press box, let along stands or lights, until 1988.

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