D3 Pro League
Swinehart scores three, Johnson a pair; Charlotte atones, storms to crown with second-half rally 5-0 over New Jersey.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Saturday, September 9, 2000) -- The third time proved to be the charm for the Charlotte Eagles.
After two previous failures in the D3 Pro Leagueís championship game, the Eagles left no doubt about their intention to take home the hardware in 2000. Striker Dustin Swinehart found net three times within a 25-minute span in the second half to complement two tallies by Jeff Johnson, also after intermission, as Charlotte romped 5-0 over the New Jersey Stallions before a league record 5,350 fans at Providence High School tonight.
"We felt like better two than one and letís get to three as quick as we can," Swinehart said. "We learned itís never over and we didnít want to get complacent."
It was the first shutout in D3 Pro League finals historyís The attendance bettered the record of 5,223 set in last yearís final at Lusitano Stadium in Ludlow, Mass. The five goals was also a title-game record, eclipsing the Albuquerque Geckos mark set in a 4-1 triumph over the Eagles in 1997
"To play in front of 5,000 people screaming for you is awesome, especially when youíre getting chances and you feel like youíre losing some confidence," Swinehart said. "To have the crowd behind you is such a boost.
Johnson put Charlotte ahead 1-0 in the 53rd minute on a play started by Steve Mott, who chased a loose ball down at the end line He sent a cross that deflected off goalkeeper Keith Engelhardt into the center of the penalty area where the 25-year-old midfielder had little trouble finishing into the vacated net.
Mott, a reserve, also figured into Swinehartís first goal seven minutes later. He headed a Mark Pinch corner kick at the far post back in front of the goal where Swinehart ran onto it and chested it into the net for a 2-0 advantage.
In the 77th minute, Swinehart made took a through ball from freshly-inserted Hugo Galeano, beat a pressuring Stallion defense and made it 3-0.
In the 84th minute, Rob Mouw dropped a ball back to the top of the box from where Swinehart completed his hat trick.
Swinehart was named the gameís "Most Valuable Player." "He may not be the most technical player in the world, but the kidís got a heart twice the size of anyone else on the field," Charlotte coach Mark Steffens said. "He gets scoring opportunities that nobody else does because of his work rate."
After losing in the 1997 and í98 finals, Charlotte was rudely dispatched from last yearís semifinals, losing a 2-1 lead in the final minutes of its semifinal against the South Jersey Barons, who eventually prevailed in a shootout.
"Itís in the back of your mind this might be the third time in five years, but we didnít talk about it much because it can play with your mind," Steffens said."