Women’s team looks for consistency while men’s team tries new formation
The Concordia Stingers soccer teams have different objectives for the winter season. Head coach Greg Sutton wants to use the time as a way to prepare for next year and try new formations with his men’s team, while maintaining consistency on the women’s side.
The women’s team finished the fall season sixth in the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ), with a 4-9-1 record. For this winter season, due to injuries and players graduating, they don’t have much depth.
“It’s going to be a challenge, so these girls just have to do the right thing and pass the right message along,” Sutton said. “Even though we might me a bit short-handed, it doesn’t mean they could take a day off.”
Sutton was named head coach of the women’s team last July, so this is his first full year of recruiting. He said there are players that will be joining the team in the fall, but aren’t playing with them this winter.
“We have to look at how we’re going to plan with those that are here currently and see how we’re going to integrate those coming in,” Sutton said. “We don’t have all the commitments quite yet, so it’s hard to tell [what] personnel we’re going to have in the fall.”
For the players, these games aren’t about getting results. “For us, our main focus is to just stay fit and keep playing,” said midfielder Alessia Di Sabato on CJLO Sports on Jan. 28. “I think it’s important for us to stick together as a team and keep working out and practising.”
On Jan. 27, the Stingers played the national champion Ottawa Gee-Gees, who don’t compete in their conference in the regular season. They lost 3-0 but Sutton was happy with how the team played. “I thought we managed the game the right way, and I thought we did a pretty good job of that in the first half,” Sutton said. “But it caught up to us in the sense that our depth is not nearly as close to theirs.”
Di Sabato said it’s a challenge to play teams from other conferences because they don’t know what to expect. “All we had heard were that they were national champions,” Di Sabato said. “It’s also cool [to play other teams] because you get to see a different style of play.”
After a one-win season, Sutton knew heading into next year, changes had to be made. “We’re a young team right now, but I think it’s something that will pay off,” Sutton said. “We have a group of good character guys, so it’s about developing some of the younger guys in the leadership roles they need to take forth.”
On the men’s side, a change of formation is a major priority for Sutton. They played with a four-man backline throughout the season, either in a 4-5-1 or 4-4-2 set-up, but this winter, he wants to try something different, with a 3-5-2 formation. It has become more popular in the soccer world after Antonio Conte used it when he was the manager with Juventus and Italy. By taking one defender away, it requires the centre backs to communicate well.
“We have some quality defenders where we could play three in the back,” Sutton added. “We’ve applied pressure up the field and it takes away a little bit of pressure off our back three. It’s a learning curve too in this formation.”
Sutton said he wanted to try the 3-5-2 because it allows his team to control possession and play with an extra attacker. In three games so far this winter season, the Stingers have two shutouts.
Main photo Hannah Ewen.