Patriotes 1, Stingers 0: Men’s soccer top-two hopes in jeopardy
Tough defense shuts the door on Concordia’s comeback attempt attempt
Last season, the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières Patriotes was the only team that had the Concordia men’s soccer team’s number. From everyone in the league, the eventual national champions were the only ones to win all their matchups with the Stingers.
A lethal striking duo and overwhelming physicality was simply too much for an emerging Stinger squad celebrating their first playoff berth in seven years. It would be more of the same as UQTR won a tense 1-0 battle on Friday night at Concordia Stadium.
“They’re a really physical team and they played that game from the start,” said captain Sean Holmes. “We’re too good to let other teams come in and dictate the pace of the game.”
While the first half was devoid of any kind of offensive flair, this was to be expected. With third place and the head-to-head tiebreaker at stake following a 2-2 draw in Trois-Rivières, neither team was willing to give an inch which resulted in a slow and very measured first 45 minutes.
It was a battle of opposing philosophies as UQTR fielded a significantly bigger lineup while Concordia opted for skill and speed. Both gameplans had their time in the sun as Concordia and UQTR managed to create half chances at the start of the second frame, but couldn’t do enough to trouble either goalkeeper.
“We struggled against them in the past when the game became physical and choppy,” said head coach Greg Sutton. “We know we weren’t at our best tonight but we can’t take too much stock in tonight. We still have a lot of soccer left and this is a very competitive league.”
The first opportunity finally appeared in the 57th minute when Patriotes defender Guillaume Pianelli Balisoni could not convert with a wide open net waiting.
The dam would open at the hour mark when a miscommunication in defense allowed last season’s leading scorer Maxime Boucher to smash home a loose ball, giving the visitors the lead.
“Going down against a team like this is very difficult because we know how they defend,” said Holmes. “They’re big and they’re organized so the chances we had we have to make count.”
Those chances were scarce as the Stingers threw everything at Patriotes keeper Félix Clapin-Girard, with very little success.
This loss means that Concordia’s goal of finishing amongst the top two teams and hosting a playoff game will be an extremely tall task, sitting four points behind the second place Patriotes with four games left.
“It’s just about taking it one game at a time now, we know we can win out the rest of the season, we just have to come out strong,” said Holmes. “We have our sights set on [Université du Québec à Montréal] on Sunday and we beat them 3-0 here, now we have to go and destroy them. We need points, it's as simple as that.”