Following a two week break, the Concordia Stingers had a tough away trip to Trois-Rivières for their quarter-final playoff matchup. Finishing sixth in the league, Concordia had to face the third place Université du Québec à Trois Rivières Patriotes.
The last time these two sides met, the Patriotes won 5-3 in a goal-fest at the Stinger Dome on Feb. 3. The Stingers were hoping for a better match defensively this time around.
The Stingers had the first chance in the 10th minute. Defender Stephen Meterissian sent a long through ball to striker Andrew Bryan. Bryan could not get a good shot off.
Four minutes later, the home side answered back. Francis Labrie and Émile Dufour-Gallant combined well with passes through the middle until Dufour-Gallant fired a shot on the Stingers goal. Concordia goalkeeper Remo Taraschi bobbled the blast, but was able to secure the ball.
In the 43rd minute, UQTR worked their way down the right flank. A shot was fired on target, forcing Taraschi to make a diving stop. The follow-up rebound was barely missed.
The match was scoreless going into the break.
In the second half, the Patriotes could have opened the scoring 10 minutes in. Gabriel Lehouillier-Capistran found some space in front of the net, but his shot was denied by a great stop from Taraschi.
In the 79th minute, the Stingers had their best chance pull ahead. After securing a cross, Taraschi played a quick ball out to midfielder Joseph Couto. Couto looked up and sent a long ball deep for Bryan to run onto. Bryan could not slip it under the on-rushing goalkeeper.
In the 86th minute, the Patriotes should have put the game away. A ball worked down the left flank was cut back to the top of the box where Dufour-Gallant had time and space to shoot. Taraschi came up with a clutch save to keep the Stingers alive.
Into stoppage time, a Concordia counter-attack led to a big chance for Léonard Loyseau. The France native could not curl his shot around the UQTR keeper.
“In the late stages of the game, we were able to create a couple chances and we could have come away with a win,” said Stingers head coach Greg Sutton. “[Our goal] was to stay disciplined and not open ourselves up to a counter attack. We wanted to feel out the game and be patient.”
Penalties were needed to find a winner. With goals from each side in the first round, Bryan had a chance to put pressure on the Patriotes. His powerful blast rebounded off the crossbar and stayed out. A UQTR goal, followed by a miss by Couto, gave the Patriotes the victory.
“Defensively, I think we did a fairly good job. But again, the winter season is a different season. It’s not a season where we have really been able to develop our identity as a team yet.”
With the way the team has played in recent matches, things are looking positive for the Stingers. Coach Sutton, who came in on an interim basis to fill in for Lloyd Barker, has been able to build on Barker’s work and have an immediate effect on the team. Players have responded well to Sutton’s tactics and their confidence on and off the pitch is reaching new heights.
After a decent winter season, the Stingers now take a few months off before returning in August for the Fall season.