Amid a steady rain, the third-seeded Charleston Golden Eagles kept their composure and dismantled No. 6 seed Mercy College by a 5-0 final to advance in the NCAA Division II men’s soccer tournament on Saturday afternoon at Welch Athletic Complex in Charleston.
Freddy Tracey and Christos Charalambous each scored twice for the Golden Eagles while goalkeeper Alvaro Dean made two saves for the shutout.
UC coach Dan Stratford said the win sends “a message to everyone that might’ve been watching that were going to be in contention this year.”
The next recipient of the message will be the winner of Sunday’s game between second-seed Gannon and No. 10 seed Assumption, with the next game to be played at the higher seed’s field.
The Mavericks got some good defensive plays in early, but as the Golden Eagles outshot Mercy 8-1 in the first half — and 15-4 on the game — it was only a matter of time before they broke through.
That came with 8:01 to go in the first half, when a long shot from Jesus Cabanas was deflected behind the keeper by Tracey to make it 1-0, an advantage Charleston would carry into the second half.
The Golden Eagles would then double the advantage in the 59th minute, as Adam Burchell stole the ball and found Tracey to slip it into the goal for a 2-0 lead.
“Once we score that first goal and we start to push, it leads to the second and the third,” Stratford said.
The lead grew further in short order, with Charalambous taking two free kicks, within roughly four minutes and 4 yards of each other, and depositing both into the net to make it 4-0 with 20:23 to go in regulation time.
The Mavericks gifted a goal to the home side on a deflected pass from Alex Townley five minutes later.
Mercy finally began to sustain some offensive pressure in the final 30 minutes of play, but Dean was solid on his feet, and the Charleston defense held firmly to preserve the clean sheet and punch the Golden Eagles’ ticket to the Round of 16.