The Concordia Stingers won their last home game of the season 4-1 against the UQTR Patriotes on Sunday.
The Stingers immediately broke bullishly into Patriote territory. They got their first shot in the second minute and kept the pressure on, stealing a ball in enemy territory and nearly scoring. UQTR was having trouble getting past their checks, while Concordia used angular passing to move the ball up the field.
Only a handful of minutes had gone by when a Concordia player was hauled down in front of the net. The kicker faked a shot, then passed it inside to Matthew Bleeker for the easy goal, which made it 1-0 Stingers.
When UQTR finally made it up the field, thanks to the speedy footwork of Jean-Louis Besse and Badr Laklae, and they got a shot off that was blocked by team Captain Andrew Robinson. After that, UQTR struggled and were often victimized by easy turnovers. In particular, UQTR player Philippe Marchand was continuously caught flat-footed.
With 17 minutes left in the half, Bleeker got a long pass, dodged his check then passed to Brian Bourbonais who got off a great shot. It was saved, but Jason Quinn was there to pick up the rebound and make it 2-0 for the Stingers. They were playing better than I’d seen all season.
A few minutes later Moreau stopped a hard shot by making a spectacular dive. The play resulted in a corner kick, that was sailed over Moreau’s head. Frustration showed as UQTR players were consistently stopped in their tracks, and was heightened when Robinson stopped another goal with a cunning interference play.
All of a sudden Bleeker, Concordia’s best offensive threat was down. He had been kicked in the groin by a UQTR defender, something made more frustrating by the fact that he was out of bounds when the incident happened. He sat out the rest of the first half.
UQTR had seen enough, and decided to make the game interesting. Jean-Francois Fournier fired a shot low and it snuck by Moreau.
The second half saw a more even match. It was clear that one bad bounce could destroy all the Stingers hard work. The defense had some work early on and Moreau made a big save. The next few minutes saw some tense moments for both teams as shots curved wide and saves were made.
Halfway through the second, Bleeker turned up the heat again. He fired a long diagonal shot that beat the goalie for his second of the match.
UQTR wasn’t ready to throw in the towel yet when Besse showed what he’s capable of by burning multiple Concordia defenders with one slick move. That set the stage for Robinson to make his second save of the match.
In the last five minutes of play Quinn and Bleeker broke into enemy territory. Two defenders stood between them and the goal. The two set up a textbook give and go play, lobbing accurate passes over the aggressive defensemen. Bleeker received a smart pass from Quinn and snapped it into the back of the net for a huge goal. It was his third of the game and it would pretty much ice it.
The team was jubilant, and giddy as the final seconds ticked down. Bleeker beamed about the hat trick saying, “I’m just glad I got to go out on a high note. I’m graduating this year. I guess you could say those last two goals were for my nuts. One for the right and one for the left.”
Coach Vladmir Pavcilik gave a little bit of insight into what has been happening in the dressing room since the team lost it’s playoff birth due to an ineligibility technicality: “We had some tough things to say after the last game (6-0 loss to UDM). Some of the guys had some hard things to say about me. But what’s important is that we didn’t fold. We didn’t lose sight of what we were after.” The final game of the season will be played this Friday in Laval.