The Concordia Stingers split a home and home series against the UQAM Citadins this week, with the away team winning both games.
The first game was played on UQAM’s turf and resulted in a 1-0 win for the Stingers. That extended goalie Antoine Moreau’s shutout streak to three games.
To start the game, the Stingers hoped to use the same stingy defense to shutdown the opposition, then wait for their chance to capitalize on a mistake. Unfortunately the visiting team controlled the pace of the game, even if neither team was able to make a decisive attack. Then before the game had really begun there was a collision, and Allessandro Adessa was down on the play. He would come back to play a few minutes into the second half.
The injury left the team a bit demoralized. After 15 minutes of play UQAM stepped up their assault on Concordia’s big defense. In the 18th minute, Moreau was forced to come up big as a blistering shot snuck in past the defenders. But UQAM continued to batter at the gates. They got a quick shot off and were rewarded with a rebound that looked dangerous. The big goalie dove to swat the ball out of the way and got up quickly. But it was too late. UQAM’s Lionel Macario was on the second rebound, and fired the ball into the back of the net. “It was like time stood still,” said Concordia striker Matthew Bleeker.
The home team picked up its pace rallied by Concordia’s star of the game Andrew Robinson. He fired the team up by making big checks and yelling “C’mon Concordia. Let’s get hungry. Let’s get intense.”
With 18 minutes left they got their best chance of the first half. A quick rush and some solid passes left Conrad Marcotte with some time at the side of the net. He made a pass that looked good until it missed his rushing teammates.
The smaller, speedy UQAM forwards made quick give and go plays that seemed to effortlessly shake off single defenders. Hassan Tounkara was particularly excellent, able to turn in a split second and burn by the Concordia players. He had simply the fastest, most agile feet of match. Other excellent players for UQAM were speedy Jamil Demers and midfielder Lorrain Gabriel, who moved the ball up the sides at ease.
Both teams came out strong in the second, resulting in some tight plays and intense challenges. With 25 minutes remaining the tide seemed to turn against Concordia again. The UQAM players rushed into the box immediately. Just as a UQAM player was about to pounce, Moreau fell in front of the ball and grabbed it. The next ten minutes were dominated by the agile UQAM forwards but they got very few chances. Then at eight minutes and 35 seconds, they nearly scored, but Concordia defender, Jonathan Provost, made an excellent save.
Then came the most exciting play of the game. Tounkara was hauled down in front of the net, resulting in a penalty shot. There was a hush as the teams lined up on either side of the goal to watch. Moreau leapt up and blocked it with his big hands.
The final minutes saw some strong pressure by Concordia who appeared to have at last gotten that hunger that they need to succeed.
Matt Bleeker, who had been having a strong game, threw up a big cross straight to the head of Adolfo Gomez-Urda. Unfortunately, he couldn’t turn it into the corner he was aiming for and the ball was cleared.
Coach Plavcilik appeared as irritated as any player that they were not able to get the equalizer. “Look,” he said, “In this league it comes down to who comes out hard. They had that advantage in the first half.”