Connecticut couldn’t cling to its late one-goal lead and paid the price for it as University of North Carolina Charlotte edged the Huskies 4-2 on penalties after a 1-1 match on Sunday in Storrs, Ct.
Tony Cascio broke a scoreless tie in the 82nd minute to put UConn up late, but moments later, Giuseppe Gentile leveled it in the 85th minute, forcing the match into two overtimes. The 49ers converted all but one of their penalties, as they shocked the sell-out crowd (5,100) on hand at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium.
UConn’s vaunted defense set the tone from the opening whistle, but Charlotte’s back four held their own throughout until Cascio pounded a volley from distance into the net to give the Huskies a goal less than ten minutes from full time.
Boasting a perfect record (17-0-0) record when scoring the opening goal and the home supporters behind them, it appeared that the last order of business for UConn was to see the final eight minutes through.
That idea lasted all of three minutes, when Gentile converted a Tyler Gibson header and sent it through to make it one-all before the whistle sounded on regulation.
The stalemate withstood two overtimes before penalties were introduced to decide a winner. Gibson converted Charlotte’s first opportunity, but the Huskies missed back-to-back efforts before the 49ers sent three of their next four past keeper Andre Blake to earn a spot in next weekend’s Final Four in Hoover, Ala.