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Gruenebaum, Frieberg lead Menace past El Paso for title in penalty kicks.

USL Second Division

Meek leads Charlotte past Pioneers for crown in penalty kicks.

Charlotte Eagles
The Charlotte Eagles enjoy their USL Second Division championship. The club has won two titles and played in five finals in its 13 years of existence.
-- Charlotte Eagles web site photo --
LUDLOW, Mass. (Saturday, August 27, 2005) -- Defender Ben Meek's second goal was an equalizer in stoppage time, allowing the Charlotte Eagles to eventually win the United Soccer League's Second Division championship tonight 5-4 in tie-breaking penalty kicks over the Western Mass Pioneers after the two teams played a 2-2- draw before 4,722 at Lusitano Stadium.

The Eagles, who also won the crown in 2000, gained redemption after losing the 2004 title to the Utah Blitzz in a tiebreaker.

While Meek scored both goals for Charlotte, he also put away the final and clinching penalty kick. Striker Omar McFarlane and defender Tony Fernandes found net for the Pioneers.

In penalty kicks, both sides made their first four kicks. Anthony Augustine's attempt for Western Mass hit the right post to open the fifth round. Charlotte's Nate Watkins had a chance to win it, but goalkeeper Bryan O'Quinn made the diving save to force sudden death.

In the sixth round, Pioneers' David Moyo sent a shot soaring over the crossbar. Meek then secured the Eagles' victory with his hard, well-placed kick. Meek was named "Most Valuable Player."

In injury time, Charlotte desperately applied pressure. Seconds before the final whistle, Ben Johnson made a long throw into the center of the penalty area. The ball was knocked around before landing at the feet of Meek who fired a volley into the top right corner of the net for a 2-2 tie.

Twenty minutes of mandatory overtime was played before resorting to penalty kicks.

League MVP Jacob Coggins started the scoring off early for Charlotte when he put away Jonah Long's corner kick in the second minute.

While Charlotte got the better of the play at the beginning, the Pioneers came on strong as the first half ended. In the 43rd minute, McFarlane evened the count at 1-1 with a hard shot from the left side of the box.

A minute into the second half, Fernandes found a seam up the middle of the field, made his way toward the top of the Eagles' box unchallenged and fired home a low shot from 27 yards past USL-2 "Goalkeeper of the Year" Chris McClellan for a 2-1 lead.

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