After McGill and Montréal roster issues, the Concordia Stingers men’s soccer team found themselves—unexpectedly—in the RSEQ playoffs. The Stingers only had a few days to prepare for Friday night’s match in Quebec City against the Laval Rouge et Or.
Less than a week ago, on Sunday afternoon, both teams met in the final match of the regular season at Concordia Stadium. The Rouge et Or won the encounter 7-2. At the time, Concordia was already mathematically eliminated from playing in the post-season.
Friday night’s playoff match saw a rejuvenated Stingers side. Head coach Lloyd Barker lined his side up in a familiar 4-2-3-1 formation. In terms of the starting lineup, there weren’t any surprises.
The opening seconds of the match were almost too good to be true for the maroon and gold. From the kick off, Concordia worked the ball inside the Laval penalty area. Rouge et Or goalkeeper Vincent Cournoyer had to make a good save to keep the game squared.
In the 10th minute, Laval midfielder Kevin Cossette and Concordia defender Enos Osei collided in the air, just outside the Stingers’ box. Cossette, a former Montreal Impact Academy player, went down and was motionless for 20 minutes after briefly losing consciousness. Fortunately he regained it as he was being stretchered off the pitch and into an ambulance.
Despite the serious injury, the match continued. In the 12th minute of stoppage time, Concordia almost went up after Andrew Bryan’s quick shot from outside the box struck the Laval crossbar.
Three minutes later, the Rouge et Or opened the scoring. A seemingly normal header back pass from a Stingers defender ended up in the back of the goal after a miscommunication with goalkeeper Remo Taraschi.
This was the only goal of the eventful first half.
“It was a very difficult moment,” Coach Barker said, referring to the own goal. “We fought like lions and felt our opponents didn’t deserve to be leading us at that point in the match.”
The second half was much quieter than the first half. On the hour mark, Laval should have doubled their lead, but Taraschi made an important save from a shot inside the box.
In the 79th minute, Laval had another opportunity to add the insurance marker. A good combination play on the flank left a Laval striker alone inside the box. Once again, Taraschi was forced to make a kick save to keep his side in the match.
Concordia was unable to find the target in this match, as final score ended 1-0 in favour of the Rouge et Or.
“We deserved a better result because we matched Laval in every department,” Barker said. “I’m certain we even surprised them with our great effort.”
The Stingers played an almost-perfect road match. The team came out strong and stayed aggressive throughout the 90 minutes. Pressure was relentless and they limited Laval’s opportunities. Barker says the team just lacked conviction when they were attacking.
“We needed someone to provide a moment of individual brilliance,” he said. “But it was not to be on the night. Our effort was not reflected on the scoreboard. I could not be more proud of how they all fought with all they had.”
With the loss, Concordia’s season is officially over. This was ConU’s first playoff game since 2003. That year the team lost to Montréal, 0-1, in the RSEQ finals.