When the ball hits the ceiling during game play, the opposing team is awarded a free kick parallel to where the ball struck. (Graphic Vivien Leung)
“We’re using this success to give a general call out to other teams—even teams in other conferences—that when September rolls around, we’re not to be taken lightly.”
assistant coach of men’s soccer team
On paper, the 0-6 regular-season record coach Lloyd Barker’s soccer team posted during the indoor campaign suggests it was improbable that the Stingers would move beyond the first round of the playoffs.
But knowing his team would claim a berth in the post-season despite being in last place, Barker instilled a feeling in his boys that they still had an opportunity to succeed.
The Stingers shocked the second-place Université du Québec à Montréal Citadins in the quarter-finals by securing a 3-2 victory in a penalty shootout and edged the Université de Sherbrooke in the semi-finals by a score of 2-1.
A goal scored from a free kick by the Université Laval’s Alex Lévesque-Tremblay, with a minute left in regulation time was all that separated Concordia from battling to a goalless draw with the national champion Rouge et Or in the final on March 28 in Trois-Rivières.
To some that may not sound like a major accomplishment, but it is stellar compared to Concordia’s 6-0 loss to the Rouge et Or in its opening game.
“There was this new feeling amongst the players on the team and we could tell a new dynamic was developing,” says assistant coach Frank Bastien of the team’s morale going into the playoffs. “We’re using this success to give a general call out to other teams—even teams in other conferences—that when September rolls around, we’re not to be taken lightly.”
Even though the Stingers participated in what was labelled an indoor league, they fielded the same amount of players as they normally would for an outdoor match.
With this in mind, members of the team and staff agreed that the major contributing factor to their loss against Laval was the roof not being high enough.
The Rouge et Or scored as they were awarded an indirect free kick just outside the 18-yard box after a member of Concordia’s backline cleared the ball and it grazed the ceiling.
“With the Stinger Dome, Concordia has demonstrated that other facilities are inadequate now,” says Bastien. “If you go anywhere else, especially Trois-Rivières, the goalies can’t even punt the ball; they’re forced to roll it out all the time.”
Bastien also notes that part of the success came as a result of having the Dome to develop new players and assess their skills. He also says the facility allowed the coaching staff to experiment more.
One of the players that benefited from his try-out with the Stingers was midfielder Gonzalo Paredes. A former Islander with John Abbott College, Paredes joined the team in the winter and dressed for every one of the Stingers’ games this indoor season.
“[Coach Barker] prepared us each week and we did what was asked of us to do,” he says. “As a rookie, I’m glad I was able to contribute to the team immediately and I’m looking forward to the future.”
Also at the heart of Concordia’s successful run this winter were goalkeeper Nick Giannone and veteran striker Fred Moody, who scored the winning goal against Sherbrooke.
“After the semi-final game, I immediately noticed a difference,” says Moody. “People wished us good luck in the final, teachers made announcements in class and it’s those small things that might make someone more inclined to try out after hearing that we’ve done well.”
In addition to the players that have made their case for a spot on next year’s roster, there will be three new faces at the Stingers’ training camp in August. They are goalkeeper Nour Fathy, Ottawa native Ryan Brousseau and forward Peter Bow.
“Of course we want to keep a lot of the core guys we have now, but there’s still going to be some competition because we’ve got new guys coming in that are ready to step into the starting lineup,” says Bastien. “We’ve developed a competitive environment and I think that’s one of the reasons why we’re heading toward success.”