Concordia 1, UQAM 1: Stingers Women’s Soccer Draws League Leaders
Stingers’ Defensive Gameplan Successful Against High Scoring Offence
As the final whistle blew on Sunday afternoon, the Stingers let out a cheer and swarmed goalkeeper Gabriela Angoso Jimenez, celebrating their tie against one of the best teams in the country.
The Citadins opened the scoring when forward Kacey Vadeboncoeur volleyed in a free-kick delivery after 30 minutes of play.
Captain Sarah Humes scored the equalizer at the seventieth-minute mark after her team had set up a strong defensive block since the start of the game, thwarting UQAM’s relentless advances.
Humes’ moment of individual brilliance gave the Stingers the spark they needed to finish the game and get an impressive result.
Concordia’s recent success can mostly be explained by their growth on the defensive side of play. Not only are they more organized and disciplined, but their increased composure on the ball has meant fewer giveaways and more control going forward.
“We’ve practiced controlling the ball a lot more since the start of the season,” said rookie defender Casey Koscher. “We talked about this a lot during the week so we knew we had to be calm at the back if we wanted to do well today.”
After a close loss against Université Laval and a draw at McGill, the Stingers have started to get more confident in their game and feel as though they have finally developed an identity, which starts with a strong defensive structure.
“It took us a bit of time to figure out what our identity is, which I think is a big reason why we didn’t have a good start to the season,” assistant coach Wilfried Monthew said. “We knew we lacked some tools to be a very strong offensive team, so we’ve focused on strengthening the back four and it’s starting to pay off.”
The back line has begun to show signs of chemistry, and seem more and more comfortable with the pace of play against good sides.
Casey Koscher and Chloe Ricciardi line up in front of the keeper, with Dayne Lebans and forward-turned-defender Haley Wheatley guarding the flanks. Midfielders Bryanna Campbell and Madeleine Mackenzie sit in front of the defensive line, winning the ball in important areas and starting dangerous counterattacks.
“They’re really starting to mesh as a defensive unit,” Humes said. “It’s good that we’ve found some consistency back there and it’ll definitely help us do better for the rest of the season.”
Another key to holding a solid defensive block is conserving energy and picking the right time to press up higher. The Stingers were able to balance both without getting caught out of position by their opponent’s quick play.
“We knew that UQAM were going to keep the ball for long stretches, so we had no choice but to sit back and keep them far from goal,” Humes said.
“But Coach also gave us the freedom to decide when we should press more, so as the striker, I kinda controlled the amount of pressure we put on them at certain times.”
Although the season is coming to a close and Concordia has no chance of qualifying for playoffs, ending the campaign on a high note and with a new sense of purpose might prove to be a valuable boost for the start of the winter season.
“It’s a good step for us for next season, getting used to playing more defensive, especially considering how young our team is,” Monthew said.
“I always tell the girls that each team comes in with a point each; the most important thing is to keep it and maybe even get all three by the end.”
The Stingers will look to continue their good form against last place Sherbrooke on Oct. 11 at Concordia Stadium.