The Concordia Stingers women’s soccer team is coming off a 2-9-3 season and have not finished above .500 since 2005. The lack of success makes recruitment difficult for coaches who are constrained by a Catch-22.
“Ultimately, the problem is that when a team is struggling it can be hard to move forward. You need better players to get results, but you need results to get better players,” said head coach Jorge Sanchez.
Despite recruiting difficulties, Sanchez did manage to add two key players to his roster. Gabriela Padvaiskas and Jennifer Duff are both offensively gifted players who are joining the team this year and are hoping to provide more talent and depth to an offence that recorded only seven goals last season.
Padvaiskas spent the last two seasons as a standout at Dawson College, while Duff returns to the team after a two-year absence. Sanchez will be relying on the duo to help the stagnant offence.
“(It’s) an area we obviously have to improve on,” he said. “It is important for us to be organized defensively and try to create chances on the counterattack.”
Defensively, the Stingers will be facing an uphill battle. The team lost captain and MVP defender Allison Burgess to graduation, and goalkeeper Andrea Davis will miss the beginning of the season due to an injury.
How the team adjusts to these losses and comes together will be critical to their success early on.
“The keys for success will be if someone can step in to fill the void with Andrea’s injury and how well Gabriela and Jennifer can click offensively,” said Sanchez.
With a turnover rate of about 50 per cent, Sanchez is realistic in his expectations and will be preaching fitness and smart tactical play.
“My expectation is to try and build the team as quickly as possible, to be well organized tactically and be competitive one game at a time. The players were given a summer fitness program, we have a three-week training camp with five exhibition games and an overnight team retreat to get ready.”
The team’s first exhibition game was a 3-0 defeat to the defending CIS champions, Queen’s Golden Gaels.
Sanchez was unavailable to attend the match (he was in China with Team Canada for the World University Games), but he was not discouraged by the defeat.
“Queen’s is the defending champion, it was going to be a tough game and was the first time the team was together. The important part comes from taking the performance in the game and adapting the team tactically and then measuring the improvement in our next game.”
The team will begin their regular season at home on Sept. 9 at 8:30 p.m. against the Laval Rouge et Or.