Charlotte, N.C. -- Behind goals in the final five minutes by Brandt Bronico and Harrison Steadman and a stout defensive effort, the No. 21 Charlotte 49ers shut out No. 5 New Mexico 2-0 in their Conference USA opener.
“After the first 15 minutes or so, we were a bit too deep, but we figured it out and settled down, and from the second half on, it was one-way traffic,” Charlotte coach Kevin Langan said. “It took us a while to get that first goal, but we felt like it was coming, and we felt the game plan was working. It was a beautiful cross and header for Brandt Bronico, and what really pleased me was our response to scoring, and we went right back after them.”
The 49ers scored their first goal when Nick Barnhorst moved the ball down the right side of the field. He passed to Dominic Bonilla who took the ball down the right side of the box. Bonilla crossed the ball to Bronico who headed the ball into the lower right corner of the goal from eight yards out in the 86th minute. Bronico’s goal was his third of the season.
“They had the ball for most of the first 15 minutes, and we saw some things the Lobos were weak on, so we switched some things around,” Bronico said. “We started pressing higher, and creating more chances, leading to the two goals.”
Charlotte made the score 2-0 when Bonilla pushed the ball down the right side of the box and crossed the ball to Harrison Steadman, who put the ball into the back of the net from six yards out just a minute and five seconds after Bronico’s goal. Steadman’s goal was his second of the season.
Bronico nearly scored another goal when in the 59th minute his shot hit the post and then was stopped at the last second by New Mexico goalkeeper Jason Beaulieu before it crossed the goal line.
In the 84th minute, New Mexico’s best scoring chance came when Kevin Correa connected on a shot from 20 yards out that banged off the post.
Charlotte finished the game with an 18-10 advantage in shots. The 49ers tallied 14 shots in the second half. Bronico led the 49ers with four shots. Conor Agnew and Kyle Parker added three shots apiece. Bonilla, who finished the game with two assists, and Steadman tallied two shots apiece.
Charlotte’s defense behind the play of goalkeeper Austin Pack, who finished the game with two saves, and defenders Barnhorst, Biko Bradnock-Brennan, Luke Waechter and Matej Dekovic were stout in recording the 49ers third shutout of the season.