The Concordia Stingers pulled off a 31-17 victory over the Sherbrooke Vert et Or on Friday night in the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec Semifinals at Concordia Stadium.
“A ‘W’ is a ‘W’ and you’ll take what you can get,” said head coach Clive Gibson.
It wasn’t the prettiest of wins, especially in the eyes of Gibson, who made it evident in his post-game comments that this was not his team’s best showing. This feeling was shared by the players as well.
“We know we can play better than how we played today,” said Concordia scrum-half Kevin Elliott. “It was a lapse and it was very frustrating. It’s a good wake-up call and I think we needed it.”
It was a win nonetheless against a very physical visiting Sherbrooke squad who failed to come up on many scoring chances. According to Stingers captain Dario Pellizzari, this is a testament to the depth of the team’s roster. Sunday will be Pellizzari’s third time in the finals.
“I’ve been here three times, I know what to change and how to prepare better,” he said. “Hopefully I can bring that to the team this year. As a team, we’ll be prepared mentally and physically.”
Concordia came out of the gates flying, scoring within the first five minutes from a try by Fred Kacou who torpedoed through the gaps left for him by the Vert et Or defense. Kacou played a key role in doubling the lead when he gave chase to a Sherbrooke winger forcing a fumble in their try-zone allowing flanker Paul Bouet to jump on the loose ball giving ConU a 10 point lead. The successful convert padded the lead to 12 points.
The Stingers were up 19-0 after a lineout on the Sherbrooke five yard line and was rushed in by second row Dan Albenas. This lead created a very nervous atmosphere for the visiting squad.
“Our forwards were eager to go,” said Albenas. “[Sherbrooke] are bigger, but we wanted that ball more.”
Before the half ended, a 12-point Sherbrooke surge put the visitors back in the game. ConU shook off the jitters and scored early in the second half thanks in large part to the aforementioned forwards who powered the ball through giving Concordia a two possession lead.
Sherbrooke cut the lead down to one possession with 10 minutes to go. The maroon and gold finally put the nail in the coffin as centre Joey Fulginiti used his quick feet to shift Sherbrooke’s defense for the final try.
Despite being so close late in the game, Fulginiti was confident in the team to come out with the win.
“The team didn’t have a doubt we were going to win,” he said. “But that last one just sucked the wind out of them.”
With the semi-final victory, Concordia will advance to the finals against the McGill Redmen, who beat Bishop’s 76-15 in the other semi-final game. The RSEQ Championship game will take place at Concordia Stadium next Sunday, Nov. 18 at 1:00 p.m. As for the Stinger faithfuls, who have witnessed two straight second place finishes, it’s appropriate to ask if this third time will be the charm.