Two months after the end of the fall season, university soccer was back with the start of the 2013 winter season. The Concordia Stingers men’s soccer team faced neighbours McGill at home in the Stinger Dome on Sunday afternoon.
A few days prior to the match, the Stingers announced former MLS goalkeeper Greg Sutton would take over the squad as head coach, replacing long time coach Lloyd Barker. Barker became a full-time soccer analyst for Fox Soccer News and Soccer Central.
Sutton steps into the vacant head coach role after serving as one of the team’s assistant coaches in the fall season. Sutton and assistant coach François Bastien will lead the team this winter.
“I think it is an opportunity that’s a privilege and honour to be a part of,” said Sutton. “I think this program has a lot to build on and I look forward to trying to help it grow.”
Sutton doesn’t foresee too many immediate changes to the squad. He praises Barker’s previous work and will look to continue improving Concordia’s soccer program.
“I think Lloyd has done a great job,” he said. “He’s started something pretty good here, and like I said, I’m just going to continue to build on it.”
Sutton’s first challenge as Stingers head coach was a derby match against rivals McGill.
The match started off with both sides trying to dictate the tempo of the match. Both teams tried to implement a strong possession-based game right from the opening kickoff.
The first good scoring chance came in the 22nd minute. The Redmen worked their way down the left flank and exposed the Stingers’ defence. A ball found McGill’s Simon Bignet atop the 18-yard-box, but he rolled his shot inches off first half goalkeeper Nicholas Giannone’s far post.
In the 30th minute, the Stingers broke the stalemate. Left midfielder Sammy Tork perfectly controlled a long ball sent his way, and from outside the box, Tork cut in and curled his shot over Redmen goalkeeper Thomas Daechsel.
Concordia were after their insurance marker. Six minutes later, Captain Gonzalo Paredes found space in the center of midfield. From around 25 yards out, he unleashed a rocket towards the McGill goal. Daechsel had to make a diving save in order to keep his side in the game.
There were no more chances for in the remaining minutes of the half. Concordia had the slight advantage at the interval.
In the second half, Concordia made a few substitutions, including bringing on Enos Osei. Osei, who played the entire fall season as a left back, was deployed as a centre forward. The Stingers opted to keep two players up front instead of their usual one striker.
The second half provided few occasions for either side.
In the 63rd minute, the maroon and gold would get their second goal. The Stingers regained possession of the ball after a poor Redmen goal kick and sent the ball to the right side to Jose Prida. Prida, who just entered the match seconds before, dribbled the ball down to the byline and send a direct cross through McGill’s penalty area. Midfielder Amadou Lam connected on his diving header attempt and gave Concordia a much needed two-goal lead.
In the 90th minute, Osei should have scored the Stingers’ third goal. On a counter attack, Prida dribbled down the right side and centered a ball to Osei who was alone atop the box. With only the keeper to beat, Osei side-stepped the McGill goalkeeper leaving the goal empty. Osei’s right-footed effort missed the empty net.
The miss wouldn’t prove to be costly as Concordia would hang on for the clean sheet victory.
“We didn’t generate too many chances,” said Stingers assistant coach Bastien. “We wished to have generated a little bit more. But fair enough, we’ll take it with the two great goals.”
Concordia remained in-control throughout the entire 90 minutes with their strong possession play.
“If you set the pace to the game, you control the game,” said Bastien. “Now, if we can move the ball around, what happens is that you make them [McGill] open up and that creates space. This creates chances and I think we did this brilliantly.”
On Jan. 20, Concordia will face the Montreal Impact Academy team at the Stinger Dome. The Montreal Impact Academy team finished second-place in the 2012 Canadian Soccer League. Kickoff is scheduled for noon.