McGill 3, Concordia 1: Frustrated Stingers Fall to McGill in Turbulent Second Half

Lack of Composure in Front of Goal leads to Third consecutive Loss for Stingers Soccer

Despite strong play in the first half, a weak second half sealed the Stingers’ fate. Photo Elisa Barbier

After having a strong hold on the game in the first half, head coach Greg Sutton’s team was punished for not finishing their chances in the second after an aggressive rivalry game that saw Concordia fail to secure their first home victory of the season.

“We let ourselves down, and a lot of it is just our discipline,” Sutton had to say about the result. “We can talk about talent, and everything else you want, but at the end of the day if you don’t work hard and concentrate for 90 minutes, we’re not going to get the results we want.”

The Concordia Stingers will be kicking themselves for not putting the game away in the first 45 minutes, with the team managing to disrupt McGill’s tactics early on, pressing high and closing down their attackers quickly.

Yacine Ait Slimane and Yazid Dawiss spearheaded Concordia’s offence, but were finding it difficult to convert their chances in the first half. The duo managed to produce multiple opportunities in the first 45, but had nothing to show for their efforts.

Dawiss was gifted two chances in the last 10 minutes of the half, picking up a pass from midfielder Syphax Djerroud in attacking zone, only to lose the ball after pressure from McGill’s goalkeeper.

The ball would come back to Dawiss quickly thereafter in the form of a cross the from the right side, but the header from the Stingers forward wasn’t able to find the target.

While the first half did finish scoreless, there was a real belief that if Concordia kept their focus, they could put McGill away in the second half. That belief soon became less believable as the second half started, with the Stingers’ resolute first half proving hard to translate into the second.

McGill came roaring out of the gates, putting the home team under significant pressure, forcing a number of saves from the vocal Stingers goalkeeper Karl Gouabé, including an outrageous save in the 58th minute, after McGill forward Florian Betelli was found with a clear attempt on goal.

“We let ourselves down, and a lot of it is just our discipline,” — Greg Sutton

Betelli would have easily found the back of the net if not for the acrobatics of Gouabé, who sprung from one post to the other, managing to block the shot with his legs, igniting a roar of congratulations from the home support.

Gouabé was reaching cult hero status during the game with his handful of saves, which makes the events of the first goal of the game all the more heartbreaking.

Forced to defend a corner, Gouabé was busy giving direction to his teammates, and was standing off his line, preferring to patrol the perimeter of his six-yard box instead, leaving McGill midfielder Dalin Saheb free to curl an attempt straight from the corner flag into the corner of the Concordia goal, Gouabé left watching in horror, and McGill breaking the deadlock to take the lead in the 70th minute of the game.

Shocked, the Stingers jumped into a frenzy to try and find an equalizer, throwing any composure that was left from their first-half performance to the wind. Seizing on Concordia’s panicked state, McGill managed to quickly double their lead, through a headed goal from forward Florian Betelli.

While the Stingers did manage to pull one goal back quickly after, McGill struck for a third time, with forward Michael Makepeace rounding off a swift counter-attack that left Concordia helpless, directly after their appeal for a handball in the opposite end was denied.

While Concordia did suffer their third consecutive defeat, there were still some positives to take away from the game, including an excellent performance by Stijn Kruidenier.

The second-year Dutch defender was one of the first players on the pitch today, warming up and getting touches on the ball long before the rest of his team joined him, and his commitment and spirit showed on the pitch. He locked down the right flank in the first half before switching to the left side of the defence in the second, fiercely intercepting passes and forcing McGill off the ball.

But it was Kruidenier’s contribution in attack that stood out, with countless overlapping runs, and a proficiency for producing headers on goal from set pieces, one of which earned Concordia their only goal of the game. But despite a standout performance, the defender was crushed by the result.

“Of course, it’s nice to hear this,” The Dutchman had to say, “But it’s such a bummer for the team, this was such an important game for us. We have a good team, we just need to put our heads together and make it happen.”

The Stingers are currently chasing a playoff spot, and will have to refocus in time for their next match as they travel to Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières on Sept. 27.