McGill 40, Concordia 14: Where Were the New Stingers?

Overconfidence, Injuries, and Dangerous Mindset Sink Stingers

Stingers unable to keep momentum against rival McGill, as they drop second consecutive game. Photo Evgenia Choros

After fighting tooth and nail last week to come within one score of an even game against the top tier Université de Montréal Carabins, the Stingers went into McGill with some confidence.

The level of that confidence ended up being a bit misguided.

“Last time I checked, we haven’t won a game in like 300 days,” said Concordia quarterback Adam Vance of his team’s overconfidence that preceded a 40-14 loss.

Last week, players and coaches alike preached a new identity for the team. The talk was of a hardworking, blue collar group that would grind opponents out. That team brought a fast paced, aggressive playstyle to back that talk up as well.

That Stingers team didn’t show up against McGill though.

The game looked like a perfect chance to show off that new identity and mentality. It had all the makings of a hard hitting, rivalry matchup. McGill vs Concordia is a classic, as rookie running back Marshal Mather knows well, having grown up in Montreal.

“I never thought I’d be here. It was a lot faster than I was expecting, a lot bigger. Great atmosphere. A lot of fans,” said the rookie.

He certainly got to experience the physicality and anger of the rivalry. The two sides got chippy enough to earn a collective 37 penalties for 350 yards lost between them.

But this wasn’t a hard nosed Stingers performance that jumped over the edge at times. It was sloppy and aggressive in needless moments, with hits after the play and frustrations being vented by both teams.

From the first play, nothing seemed to go right for the Stingers. A well drawn up play that saw receiver James Tyrrell open downfield for what would have probably been a touchdown turned into nothing when the ball went just an inch or two out of the receiver’s hands.

From there, it was a collection of difficulties. Five turnovers by the Stingers, a run defense that gave up 150 yards, while it’s own ground attacked disappeared.

Add on an inability to get any significant or sustained pressure by Concordia’s defensive front in key moments as well. Even the team’s kicker, veteran Andrew Stevens, missed a field goal early.

The Stingers found themselves down 22-1 near the end of the second quarter against a team that they expected to handle as they have in past years when they took home the last five Shaughnessy Cups.

The biggest weakness for Concordia was their offensive line. Vance faced consistent, heavy pressure, getting sacked five times. It certainly didn’t help that one of the line’s strongest players went down early in the game.

Damien Constantin was carted off the field with an injury. The six-foot-seven 335 pound tackle was replaced with the six foot, 265 pound backup and the difference was definitely noticeable.

“That’s hard to overcome, losing your starting left tackle,” said Vance, noting there isn’t much depth at the position. “That’s a tough blow right there.”

With Vance facing pressure and his line collapsing consistently, the Stingers looked out of sync all afternoon. The run could not be established, throws were off, and the offense as a whole was stalled.

But while the injury didn’t help, the real problem and root of the loss comes back to how the team approached the game from the start.

“We came in here with the wrong mindset. We were happy with how we performed last week, came in here and thought ‘McGill, they’re gonna roll over’,” said Vance. “we can’t be thinking like that.”

If this team is fully committed to a new identity and culture change as they’ve said, this game is a lesson in focus on that goal. An ugly loss coming from a rival that you were supposed to match up well against is a reminder to this team that performing well once isn’t enough, it has to be consistent.

The next test will be to see which Stingers team shows up next week. Will it be the one that went toe to toe with the Carabins when so many expected them to be blown out? Or will it be the one that was steamrolled by McGill?

The answer next game, Sept.7 at home at 2 p.m., against the Université de Laval Rouge et Or may define much of the season moving forward.