Stingers Season Previews
A Brief Look at Concordia’s Fall Sports
August in Montreal means the bees are back. At Concordia, the eighth month means the same thing as Stingers fall training takes off. With the start of their seasons only days away, the athletes are gearing up for what they hope will be their own championship seasons.
Here are your fall 2012 Concordia Stingers:
The Stingers enter the season with high-expectations for themselves. After finishing last season with a disappointing 4-5 record and getting blown out 33-7 by the Laval Rouge et Or in the semi-finals of the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec, the team and head coach Gerry McGrath are looking to build around a talented nucleus of offensive and defensive players.
“We need to be more mature and execute a little better [this year],” said McGrath.
“Raul Thompson and Michael Donnelly are a great one-two punch at tailback, Matt Gulakow has really come on at fullback and tight-end, our receivers Kris Bastien and Mike Harrington and Jamal Henry, those guys know how to play. I met with our leadership group the other day and they expect us to win the Vanier Cup.”
The Stingers open their regular season Sept. 1 at Concordia Stadium against the Bishop’s University Gaiters at 1:00 p.m.
The men’s soccer team, led by coach Lloyd Barker, a former Jamaican national player and Montreal Impact forward, is looking to break a streak of eight consecutive seasons without making the playoffs.
The team has made some improvements since Barker took over in 2007, but a postseason berth has remained elusive.
Barker will be looking to veteran midfielder Karim Haroun, who led the team with 5 goals and 6 points last season, enough to earn him a spot on the RSEQ second all-star team. Forward Eduardo Mazzonna will also be a key player, providing offense in his second season as a striker.
Despite two non-conference losses to open the season, there were several flashes of brilliance that gave hope that this might be the season the Stingers find themselves back in a playoff spot.
The Stingers open their regular season Sept. 6 at the Université de Montréal against the Carabins at 8:00 p.m.
Concordia’s women’s soccer team is coming off an underwhelming year, picking up only two victories to go along with three draws and nine losses. Despite this, an influx of talent will look to take the women to the next level under head coach Jorge Sanchez, who is entering his tenth year with the team.
A former Concordian himself, Sanchez is no doubt looking for big seasons from veteran forward Jennifer Duff and second-year players Alexandra Dragan and Melissa White-Kendro.
The Stingers open their regular season Sept. 6 at Université de Montréal against the Carabins at 6:00 p.m.
Despite a subpar 1-4-1 record last year, the Concordia Men’s Rugby team advanced to the RSEQ championship game against McGill, ultimately falling 28-7 to the league-best undefeated Redmen. Head coach Clive Gibson is looking to rally his troops with the hopes of reaching another championship game, and coming out of it with a better result.
“We’re looking for a championship,” said Gibson, who’s had a hand in running both the men’s and women’s programs since 1996.
“I’m looking to strengthen the forwards so we can gain more profitable balls. I’m expecting big things from my captain Dario Pellizzari. He’s put in a great deal of work in the offseason, not only on his own physvical preparation but also on building team cohesiveness.”
The Stingers open their regular season Sept. 7 against the Université de Sherbrooke Vert et Or at Concordia Stadium at 9:00 p.m.
Concordia’s baseball team may fly under the radar at times, but the squad, led by head coach Howard Schwartz, has been a pillar of consistency over the last several years.
Having been to nationals four times in the last five years and winning numerous conference championships in the process, Schwartz is looking to continue that dominance, despite introducing many new players this season.
“When you have not that many [players] returning, and so many new faces, they have to go through their own personal evolution of becoming comfortable with playing for the university and being part of something probably bigger than they’ve ever been a part of,” said Schwartz.
“My expectation is to focus on developing the philosophy of the team to get them to learn how to be a successful group. I’m expecting guys like André Lagarde to step up and take control, being a third-year player, as well as guys like Brandon Bercovits to get on the mound and gain from his experience from last year.”
The Stingers open their regular season Sept. 2 against the Carleton University Ravens at Pierre-Elliot Trudeau Park in a double-header; the first game begins at 12:00 p.m., while the second starts at 2:30 p.m.
Concordia’s cross-country team may still be considered a club, and may be open to any willing participants, but that doesn’t mean that they take their sport lightly. Led by head coach John Lofranco, the group looks to improve upon their solid results from last season.
“For the guys, we need the depth guys [3-4-5 runners] to perform better. They were a young group last year, so hopefully another year will help,” said Lofranco.
“The same goes for the women: we have a nice returning core who are a little more experienced now, and know what to expect. If they can work as a group and motivate each other, they can be greater than the sum of their parts.
“It’s hard to say [with regards to expectations] as it depends on the other teams,” Lofranco admitted. “We are always at a disadvantage when it comes to recruiting, so we have to develop from within. We look for individual improvement from each individual. That’s the goal.”
“I expect Ryan Noel-Hodge to challenge for the provincial title and quite possibly the national title,” said Lofranco of the coming year. “I’m excited about Jackie Peters. She had a stress fracture in the winter and didn’t run much between March and June. She’s pain free and I think she will have a good fall. She has a great attitude: I could see her moving into the top 20 this year.”
The Stingers will participate in their first event Sept. 15 at the McGill Open; the women will be running the 4K, while the men will be running the 6K.
-With files from Seth Galina