Protect The Hive At All Costs

Stingers Women’s Soccer Bolster Defence with New Recruits

  • The Stingers have added new player to the team in hopes of making up for the loss of graduating defender Shannon Travers (left). Photo Brandon Johnston

  • Concordia defender Alyssa Ruscio (right) will be fighting for playing time as the Stingers add new players to the team. Photo Brandon Johnston

It’s a popular saying in sports: “Defence wins championships.” The head coach of Concordia’s women’s soccer team, Jorge Sanchez, made it clear he’s a believer in that adage with the players he has recruited so far this offseason.

“I’d definitely like to allow fewer goals this season,” said Sanchez.

“We can be much tighter defensively. All-around play is satisfactory, but allowing less goals is something we’re going to focus on.”

Three new players have signed letters of intent with the Stingers since the 2014 season ended last October: defender/midfielder Laurence Thivierge, defender Elisa Spadafino and goalkeeper Rebecca Bensimon. All are expected to join the team in August in time for training camp.

Thivierge, who previously played for Collège Lionel-Groulx, is seen as a player who possesses good technical ability. According to Sanchez, Thivierge can fit in at centre-back or be shifted to midfield when need be. In 20 games with Lionel-Groulx last season, Thivierge scored two goals.

Spadafino, who last played AAA for the Laval Conquérants, is a versatile defender who can play all four positions at the back, although she will most likely be used as an outside defender, according to Sanchez.

Bensimon, formerly of John Abbott College, is a good shot-blocker and will add depth to the goalkeeping position. Bensimon will be a backup goalie, but that doesn’t mean that she, or any of the other recruits, won’t be seeing any playing time this upcoming season.

“I’m not sure if they will be starters but they will play regularly and it will certainly make for internal competition within the team, which is always healthy,” said Sanchez.

Second-year defender Alyssa Ruscio applauds the new additions for other reasons.

“The good thing about our new players is that they are very versatile and we can move them around to fill holes where it’s necessary,” she said.

Last season, the Stingers finished fifth in the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec conference with a 5-9 record, one spot out of playoff contention. Part of their struggles lay in their inability to keep the ball out of their own net, as the team allowed 30 goals in their 14 games, the third most in the conference.

The Stingers were also adjusting to life without former team MVP Jennifer Duff, who left following the 2012 season. Duff scored 12 goals in her final season with the Stingers.

“That’s a big number,” said Sanchez.

“Those are a lot of goals that we lost. We need that game-breaker that will take us to the next level.”

If that game-breaker isn’t already on the roster, Sanchez is hoping he can find one in the next few months. That won’t be all he’ll be looking for, though.

“We’re looking to get the right individual,” he said.

“Yes, a good soccer player but also a student that will do well academically. We look for players that will be here for the long run and continue to grow past this season.”

Since Sanchez took over the team in 2002, the Stingers have made the playoffs twice and finished fourth or better four times in the eight-team RSEQ conference. But that came in his first four seasons with the team—since 2006, Concordia has had zero postseason appearances and finished a combined 26-68-18.

He hopes that with the addition of new talent, the Stingers can finally make it back to the provincial championship game. The last time the Stingers made it was in Sanchez’s debut season as the team’s head coach.

“Just being able to be in that type of game, where we hold our destiny in our own hands, is a moral victory,” he said.

“But we’re past moral victories, we need to transform those into concrete results.”

Ruscio agrees.

“We can definitely make the playoffs this year. We have the team to do so. The new players are all potential starters and we just have to believe that we are good enough,” she said.

“We always come very close to winning against the strong teams and that means that if we can get into that mind state of believing we are a good team then we will take it to the next level.”

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