The Concordia Stingers men’s soccer team has 14 new players for this 2019-2020 Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) season. One of them is rookie goalkeeper Julian Petrilli, who started the first four games of his team’s campaign.
Petrilli joins the Stingers after developing his game with Les Étoiles de l’Est in Laval at the AAA level. The goalkeeper said he’s enjoying his experience with the Stingers so far and wants to gain experience during his first year of university soccer.
“It’s important to go all the way by making the playoffs and going to nationals,” Petrilli said. “However, I just want to get the taste of how does university soccer feel. I played at [an] elite level since I was a child. I just want to gain experience and have fun with the team.”
Stingers head coach Greg Sutton said Petrilli shows a lot of confidence for a first-year player. He added that Petrilli adapted quickly to university soccer since joining the team.
“We will go through some learning curves, but I think he’s done some very good things so far,” Sutton said. “His attitude has been good. He’s already come up big for us in huge moments during these first [few] games of the season. For a goalkeeper, he has the overall tools, which are needed at this level.”
Sutton said the decision to start Petrilli the first four games of the season was an easy one, as the rookie’s attitude makes the coaching staff confident with him in goal.
“As a goalkeeper, you have to be humble, but also very confident,” Sutton said. “I think he shares both those qualities. For a first-year goalkeeper, he hasn’t really played like one. He’s been able to prepare himself for training camp, come in, and make a statement early. That’s the reason why he’s in there now, and I’m sure that’s the reason why he’ll probably stay there for the remainder of this season, and hopefully beyond.”
Petrilli said it’s great to see his hard work pay off. He added that it gives him a boost of confidence to be starting in goal.
“I’ve been really determined and committed with this team right from the start,” Petrilli said. “I’ve had a great work ethic, and I’ve always been comfortable. I had the urge and desire to win, and [Coach Sutton] gave me the opportunity to play.”
Sutton, a former professional goalkeeper who played a part of his career with the Montreal Impact in Major Soccer League (MLS), won many awards in his career and said his experience as a goalkeeper will help his relationship with Petrilli.
“It’s not really the technique that I’m going to teach him because at this stage, I think it’s very difficult to change anybody’s technique,” Sutton said. “I think it’s going to be more about the mental aspect of it, the position aspect of it, and the decision making. I think those things are going to be elements I definitely will be able to help him with.”
Sutton also explained that the game becomes faster from level to level, which asks goalkeepers to make faster decisions as well. The Stingers head coach said Petrilli will learn many things during his rookie season of university soccer.
“I think it’s the decisions he’ll have to make,” Sutton said. “He’ll need to become quicker, and continue to become more and more of a communicator. He’ll need the personality to handle adversity and not dwell on things in order to be able to move on.”
Sutton explained that the key for good goalkeepers is consistency and that this is an aspect Petrilli will need to work on at this level of the game.
“If you let things get in your head in difficult moments, it will only get worse for you,” Sutton said. “Petrilli’s not struggling with those things, but he needs to be prepared and focused mentally for those moments of adversity. As he continues to climb levels, the level of focus needs to be better and better. If [he does] that, [he’ll] have the luxury of being a real significant impact player.”
For Petrilli, it’s special to have a former professional goalkeeper as head coach. He said it makes his relationship with Sutton unique.
“It’s always an honour to play for someone who played for the Impact,” Petrilli said. “I’m of course really happy to have him as a head coach.”
In four games and 360 minutes played, Petrilli made 22 saves on 29 shots and has a 1-1-2 record.
The Stingers will play the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) Citadins on Sept. 20 at 8:15 p.m. at Stade Saputo.
Feature photo by Kyran Thicke