Stingers Season Previews
A Look at What’s to Come
When the Concordia Stingers take the field this Saturday afternoon, they will undoubtedly be feeling the pressure as they look to move past a tumultuous 2012 season.
Following a season shaped by trials and tribulations—including forfeiting two wins due to fielding an ineligible player—the team has high expectations for the coming year and is determined to bounce back from its disappointing 1-8 record.
“We have a better football team this year,” said head coach Gerry McGrath. “We feel secure in that we should make the playoffs and hopefully bring home a championship.”
To do so would be a feat the team hasn’t accomplished in the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec since 1998.
As with the end of any football season, the Stingers saw some key seniors graduate last year, but gained a number of promising rookies for the season to come.
“We are very happy to have some promising student athletes on our team this year,” said former Montreal Alouettes player, assistant offensive coordinator Bryan Chiu. “These first few games of the season will be challenging, but I have no doubt our players will continue to improve and gel as a team.”
Alongside veteran quarterback Reid Quest, the Stingers have a number of strong receivers that will be returning to the lineup this season, including Mike Harrington and All-Star Kris Bastien. Also on the must-watch list this year are rookie running backs Axel-Andy Kabal and Jamall Hamilton, both of whom McGrath feels are sure to have a “strong and explosive season.”
The Stingers kick off their season at Concordia Stadium against the Université de Montreal Carabins Saturday, Aug. 31 at 1:00 p.m.
Greg Sutton has high hopes for his men’s soccer team as he undertakes his first year as head coach at Concordia.
“We can always get better,” said the former Montreal Impact goaltender. “It comes down to mentality and having the right attitude when you step on the field.”
The Stingers had a less-than-average season last year, picking up five victories—three of which came from forfeits by the opposing team—to go along with their six losses and one tie.
However, last season could still be considered a success, as the Stingers earned their first postseason berth since 2003, losing to Laval 1-0.
Hoping to make it two playoff appearances in a row, the Stingers have begun this preseason with two ties, as Sutton and his players have been experimenting with new lineups, tactics and philosophies.
“We cannot be satisfied with where we’re at,” Sutton told his team. “Confidence is great to have but you need to improve so you can further grow that confidence.”
With Sutton at the helm, a change in the function of the team has come, and many are confident that positive results on the pitch will follow.
The Stingers start their season against the Université de Montreal Carabins on Sunday, Sept. 9 at the CEPSUM at 1:00 p.m.
After losing a win-and-in regular season finale 2-0 against Laval last season, Concordia’s women’s soccer team is hoping its defence will be able to lead it to the playoffs this year.
“I don’t think we’ll be winning games four or five to nothing, but if we defend well and take advantage of the scoring chances we get, we should be in competition for a playoff spot,” said Stingers head coach Jorge Sanchez.
The Stingers will be without star forward Jennifer Duff this year, but Sanchez will be looking for new recruits Alyssa Ruscio and Steph Dilemme to deliver on the defensive end.
Despite losing some important players, Sanchez is confident his team can finish among the top three teams in the conference.
“We have some really solid returnees and because of the experience of last year, they’ve all worked hard over the summer to get fitter and stronger,” said Sanchez. “We want to set the bar high and work towards it.”
The Stingers open their season at Concordia Stadium against Bishop’s University.
Starting his 19th season as team manager of Concordia’s baseball club, Howie Schwartz is as excited as ever for the season ahead.
“I don’t remember ever having such a strong list of recruits,” said Schwartz, who will be adding a wealth of talent to his roster this year. “We had a good run last year,” he said. “But this year we’re much stronger; on paper, we’re better in every department.”
The club finished atop the Canadian Intercollegiate Baseball Association Northern Conference with an 11-5 record last season, but lost to the Carleton Ravens in the conference semifinals.
To spark his offence this year, Schwartz will be counting on Ontario native Peter Zidros to add power to his batting lineup. According to Schwartz many teams have shown interest in the 6-foot-3, 220-pound first baseman, including Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox.
On the mound, the addition of pitcher Roberto Zapata is a big plus to the team’s rotation. Zapata was named the 2012 pitcher of the year in the Quebec Baseball Junior Elite League after finishing the season with an excellent earned run average of 1,068 and registered 88 strikeouts for the LaSalle Cardinals.
Schwartz hopes his newfound depth will allow the Stingers to make the nationals for the fifth time in the past seven years.
“We’re going to have a lot of guys that we can call on in critical situations that are extremely dependable,” said Schwartz. “I think we’re going to be fine. We’ve already had a couple of team practices and the guys seem to play well together. That team chemistry is very important.”
The Stingers start their season on Sept. 7 against the McGill Redmen at Pierre-Elliot Trudeau Park at 12:00 p.m.
It’s full speed ahead this season for Concordia’s cross-country running club. With the departure of coach and club founder John Lofranco, the club has seen some change.
“I’m very excited about the upcoming season and by the potential to grow the club,” said the club’s new coach Simon Driver. Driver, also a runner for the club, has five years of experience coaching individual runners and now heads a running squad of 25 athletes.
Club members Driver, Ryan Noel-Hodge, Elizabeth Mokrusa, and Valérie Sicard-Thibodeau all finished in the Top 20 at provincials last October, and Noel-Hodge clocked in a third-place finish at the Collegiate Interuniversity Sport cross-country championships in London, Ontario last November.
Driver hopes to see even more of the club’s runners do the same this year.
“I hope for lots of personal bests, and for the team to gel as a young, ambitious, dedicated group of athletes,” he said.
The club is welcoming all athletes able to run 45 minutes at a five minutes-per-kilometer pace.
You can see the pack in movement during the first meet of the season, the Martlet Open Cross Country meet, on Sept. 14 at McGill University at 10:30 a.m.
-Simone E. Bennett