A rain-drenched pitch at Molson Stadium was the site of two classic clashes between the McGill and Concordia soccer squads Friday night. Those spectators who braved the continuous downpour were treated to electrifying finishes.
The Stinger women rallied from a goal down in the latter stages of the game to tie the Martlets 2-2. Later that evening, the Stinger men pulled out a dramatic come-from-behind 2-1 victory over the Redmen with two goals in the final 12 minutes.
In early evening action, the Stingers were up against a resilient and determined Martlet side. McGill established their offensive attack immediately, and were rewarded with a score at the 15-minute mark. A dipping Martlet corner kick took a bounce inside the Stinger goal area, allowing McGill forward Bonnie Walsh to slide the ball past Concordia goalkeeper Julia Peress.
Peress, however, was not rattled, and proceeded to make several diving stops throughout the first half to keep her team in the game. Concordia had several opportunities for an equalizer as the offence was led by forward Marie-Claude Allard, who made strong runs at the goal, enabling her to penetrate the stingy McGill defence on numerous occasions.
After a rather eventful first-half, McGill managed three shots on the Concordia goalkeeper within the opening five minutes of the second. The Stinger defence, led by Valerie Desjardins and Anne-Marie Lachapelle, held it’s own against the relentless Martlet attack with strong coverage.
At the 54-minute mark, Desjardins was rewarded for her efforts, sailing a free kick over the Martlet goalkeeper from 25 yards out. However, McGill would respond at 75 minutes with an Alanna Maloney goal to put the Martlets up 2-1.
The Martlets seemed poised for victory, but the Stingers would not be denied. They continued to push toward the McGill goal, earning a last minute corner. Anne-Marie Lachapelle’s swerving kick, led to a Jerusha Osbourne equalizer with seconds remaining, earning the Stingers a much-deserved draw against the rival Martlets.
Head Coach Jorge Sanchez praised the Stingers’ efforts.
“To tie the game up the way that we did – fantastic. We made mistakes, but deserved at least a tie,” he said.
Concordia midfielder Kathleen Grybowski summed up the players’ thoughts.
“This is an amazing feeling. The team is really starting to come together, and this has been a long time coming,” she said.
The entertaining action continued as the male Stingers kicked-off against the number-two ranked McGill Redmen. The Stinger men were hoping for a strong showing against an experienced Redmen squad.
Concordia attempted to penetrate the Redmen defence several times in the opening 10 minutes. Stinger forward Ammar Badawieh’s skilled footwork wreaked havoc on Redmen defenders in the early going as he escaped numerous challenges.
Neither club could establish a sustained attack, and in turn, shots on net were scarce. McGill would counter-attack with long lead passes, attempting to use the speed of their forwards to out-run Concordia.
At the 29-minute mark, Stinger goalkeeper Richard Green made a spectacular save off the boot of McGill striker Mathieu Harding, as he reeled the shot in from close range.
The Stingers’ defence was led by mid-fielder George Oroc, who ably dismantled Redmen attacks and was responsible for quite a few essential clearances.
However, the Stingers found themselves in trouble in the opening moments of the second half.
At the 55-minute mark, Redmen defender Daniel Bernad was awarded a penalty shot, but was denied by Green, who made a diving stop to keep it at zeroes.
Concordia would regroup, creating several quality scoring opportunities in the minutes that followed. However, with under 30 minutes remaining, a McGill ball would deflect off a Concordia defender and skip past Green for a 1-0 McGill lead.
The Stingers would weather the Redmen attack and were rewarded with a penalty kick at 78 minutes.
Badawieh converted the penalty with a low blast, and levelled the score at 1-1. Mehdi Mourali, a Stingers’ midfielder called it the “turning point of the game.” A flurry of Stinger shots would follow minutes later testing the Redmen keeper further.
In a last-ditch effort to win the game, Badawieh would complete a sensational run up the left-side and centre a pass to defender Martin Chiodoni who authoritatively slammed the ball into the net to secure the victory for the Stingers.
“I knew I had no option on the right side of the net. I was just thinking ‘I have to keep the ball low,’ ” Chiodoni said.
Head Coach Vladimir Pavlicik was impressed with the overall team effort. “The game tonight showed that we can play with the top teams in the league. We started slowly, but we worked hard. This game showed a lot of character.”