CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A tying goal in the 86th minute from senior Joe Brito and a buzzer-beating finish from Preston Popp in the opening half of extra time sent the Charlotte men's soccer team past fifth-ranked Kentucky, 2-1, on Senior Night at Transamerica Field.
The victory was Charlotte's (9-5-0, 4-3-0 C-USA) second consecutive walk-off victory over the Wildcats (10-1-4, 2-1-4) after Popp sent UK home empty handed during the spring campaign.
The night's result was also Kentucky's first loss of the year. The Wildcats entered the night as one of three remaining unbeaten teams in college soccer.
Along with his game-tying goal, Brito assisted on the night's winner, upping his season totals to five goals, nine assists and 19 total points, all of which are career-highs.
Popp's winning strike, marked his seventh goal of the season and sixth finish in C-USA play, a total already greater than his Co-Golden Boot winning mark from the Spring season.
The opening half was largely lost in the midfield, with both sides seeing few chances in the attacking third.
Kentucky eventually opened the scoring when Luke Andrews found himself in open space and cooly finished his opportunity to put UK up, 1-0 at the halftime break.
Out of the locker room, the Niners were the better side from the outset, dominating possession, while generating seven second half shots, three of which were on target.
Eventually, the pressure paid, as a combination at the top of the 18 from freshman Callum Watts and sophomore Malcolm Walters, saw Brito in acres of space inside the box, before he calmly finished into the bottom corner to knot things up at 1-1 with less than five minutes remaining in regulation.
The Niners back line held off a late Wildcat flurry, before the match progressed into extra time.
In the opening extra time frame, the Niners kept their momentum from the end of the second half, generating a number of attacking chances and pumping crosses into the box.
With less than a minute remaining, Kentucky countered and had numbers pushing forward, before freshman center back Ian Pilcher made arguably the play of the night to win the ball back for CLT.
The Niners raced back up the pitch, earned a foul roughly 30 yards from goal and were given the gift of a stopped clock with 11 seconds remaining.
Brito played a picture ball inside the danger area that was eventually cleaned up by the Queen City's number nine to send the Niner faithful into jubilation.