Fourth-year player heading into season as new co-captain
On soccer teams at any level, the defensive midfielder is one of the most important players on the field, acting as the link between the defence and offence. Soccer Training Guide writes, to be a good midfielder, “you will need to encourage your teammates and give them strength to work harder. You must also have enough power to force yourself to work hard.” On the Concordia Stingers women’s soccer team, that player is Shannon McFadden.
“She’s the engine and she turns the wheel,” head coach Greg Sutton said about McFadden. “With her energy, and her defensive responsibility that she takes very strongly, she does very well for our team in the midfield. She’s kind of the glue that binds everyone.”
McFadden, who is in her fourth year with the team, is able to help her team out on both sides of the field, and occasionally likes to join in on the attack.
“When [the other team] is pressuring us, I have to stay back in a more defensive role,” McFadden said. “If I don’t feel that myself, I know Greg and the coaches will tell me as well.”
The defensive midfield position is so highly valued because players are constantly running, which is why Sutton called McFadden the engine of the midfield. When asked how important it is to be in good physical condition to play that position, McFadden laughed.
“It’s very important,” McFadden said. “Off-the-field training is just as important as on-the-field training as a midfielder. In the summer you have to be in the gym everyday.” Sutton added that she’s one of the fittest girls on the team.
This year, the players on the women’s soccer team voted McFadden as one of two co-captains for the season. Montreal native, Courtney Lundell-Streeter, is the other co-captain, while Claudia Asselin will be the assistant captain.
“Her experience, her dedication, her leadership and communication, that’s what you need in a captain,” Sutton said about McFadden. “[The players] chose wisely because I think those three came in with the right attitude. They’re committed to doing what we ask of them.”
As captain, McFadden wants to lead by example. “Rather than telling the girls on my team what the expectations are, we have to show them so they realize what’s expected of them,” she said.
McFadden said she wants to always work hard at practice, show up on time and do whatever it takes to make sure her teammates know what to do.
McFadden faced some challenges during her time at Concordia before she was named captain. Native to Kensington, Prince-Edward-Island, a town of just over 1,600 people, she moved to Montreal in 2015 to study history.
“Being from a small town, I wanted to experience living in a big city for a bit, and I thought, ‘Why not have the opportunity to play soccer as well,’” McFadden said. “I have a sister that goes to McGill […] Coming here with only one sister was tough at first.” She moved away from home, having left behind her three other sisters, two half-sisters and four half-brothers (in case you weren’t counting, that’s 10 total).
“In my first year, the first couple of weeks were hard,” the fourth-year player added. “I thought about not coming back. I stuck with it, and I’m happy I did.”
The P.E.I. native also noticed a difference in the level of talent when she came to Quebec. According to Soccer Canada’s 2017 annual report, there are just over 55,000 youth female players in Quebec versus 2,200 in P.E.I. There are also 11,000 coaches in Quebec, compared to just 100 coaches in her home province, so there’s a better chance to develop talent here.
“The game is a lot faster and the girls are a lot bigger,” McFadden said. “That was a bit of a challenge as well.”
McFadden developed through P.E.I.’s youth ranks. She joined the provincial team at the U-13 level, and at 15 years old, played with 17 and 18-year-olds on the provincial team at the 2013 Canada Games. That year, P.E.I. did “better than we’ve ever done,” according to McFadden, finishing ninth out of the 13 provinces and territories.
During her time with the provincial team, McFadden said she was coached by someone who would turn out to be one of her biggest role models in soccer. Glen Miller coached her at the U-13 level, and she is still in contact with him today.
“The philosophy that he instilled in us at a young age is kind of what I still go by today,” she said. The philosophy Miller taught McFadden was to keep calm with the ball, don’t force any passes, and to work hard on and off the ball to help her teammates.
Even though McFadden is still 1,100 kilometres from her hometown of Kensington, P.E.I., she has no regrets about coming to Montreal.
“[Being a Stinger] is part of who I am and it will always be,” McFadden said. “I’m glad I’m here to be a part of something bigger in the school community.”
Main photo courtesy of the Concordia Stingers.