Concordia 1, Montréal 0: Stingers stun top team in the nation
This is the Stingers’ first win at the CEPSUM in 15 years
No, you didn’t read that wrong.
The Université de Montréal Carabins men’s soccer team was the top-ranked team in the county by a mile. They were on their revenge tour for having lost the National Championship in their own backyard last season and had been brushing teams aside with ease.
Concordia was one of those teams, having been crushed 6-2 in the first game of the season. That would not be the case the second time around as a 79th minute goal after a missed penalty from Anthony Phelps handed Les Carabins their first loss in a 1-0 thriller at the CEPSUM on Friday, Oct. 8. This was the first time the Stingers took three points away from Montréal on the road in 15 years.
“I’m going to be completely honest, I’m not even surprised [that we won],” said captain Sean Holmes, who never wavered in his belief that Concordia was a top team. “I couldn’t be more proud of every single one of our guys. If we can beat the best team in the country, then we can beat anyone.”
Jordy Kerlegrand got the start between the sticks and was immediately put to the test. Eight minutes in, a towering header from Mohamadou Sylla forced a great reaction save from him as les Carabins looked to open the scoring. Montréal‘s flurry of passes was met with the same energy and unwavering defense that saw the Stingers take a point away from both of their meetings last season.
“We’re a very confident group and we try to not let anyone dictate how we play. We have a lot of players that are technically really good,” said Head Coach Greg Sutton. “This is an accumulation of all that we’ve done and worked on in the last few weeks.”
The rest of the first half flew by at a surprising pace with neither team really imposing their will over the other. The never-ending midfield battle finally gave way to some offense when Phelps broke away from his marker and took off towards Les Carabins net, but just putting the ball wide, ending the half still at 0-0.
After the restart, Montréal wasted no time reminding everyone why they were the top-ranked team in the country in recent weeks. Two minutes in, Quentin Paumier sent a warning shot off the post and followed it up ten minutes later with another beautiful curling shot off the same post.
The pressure would continue until the hour mark when Stingers leading scorer Alberto Correa came on and reinvigorated Concordia’s attacking spirit.
“Finding that confidence and belief in one another is something we’ve been getting better at all season,” said Holmes. “The whole team is really good with the ball and it was just a matter of having the right mentality.”
That mentality paid off when, in the 77th minute, Phelps was brought down in the box and awarded a penalty. The initial shot was saved while all of the CEPSUM held its breath, but the Concordia section erupted when he made no mistake on the rebound. 1-0 Concordia.
“Gave myself a little bit of a scare, but it all worked out in the end,” said an elated Phelps. “I don’t look at the goalie [when I take penalties]. I only saw the ball bouncing back towards me and I made sure I didn’t hit it over the net.”
But the job was far from finished as Concordia still had to defend for 15 minutes against the best team in the country desperately looking for a goal. They did a good job of rejecting every Carabins attack until the 93rd minute when a last-gasp header was seemingly going in until an unbelievable acrobatic stop from Kerlegrand, sealing the historic victory.
“I’m so proud of him, he made some of the best saves I’ve ever seen today,” said Holmes. “Jordy just has the personality, the voice, and the size to absolutely dominate back there.”
Concordia will continue their trek towards the playoffs when they host the Université de Québec à Trois-Rivières Patriotes on Friday, Oct. 15.