With many veteran players leaving, this recruitment season is busier than usual
After a season that ended too quickly on Oct. 23, the Concordia Stingers’ men’s soccer team has started its recruitment process with many empty spots to fill.
“It’s going to be a little bit of a challenge,” said Stingers’ head coach Greg Sutton. “Roughly nine to 10 players are graduating, so we have a bigger class than normal coming in and graduating. It adds to more recruiting and more work, to be fair.”
Among those graduating are several core players who were starters on the team. Centre defender and captain Sean Holmes is leaving the team after five years with the Stingers, something that is “surely going to affect the group,” according to goalkeeper Jordy Kerlegrand.
“It’s going to be hard to replace them,” Kerlegrand added, also mentioning midfielder John Cevik as a player he’ll miss. “Cevik is probably one of the best players I’ve ever been on the same team with. It’s going to hurt because when he was on the field we won and when he wasn’t, his absence was felt.”
Both Cevik and Holmes were named to the RSEQ’s second all-star team.
Although core players are leaving the team in high numbers, the recruitment has been going well so far. The Stingers’ men’s soccer team will be holding open tryouts on Jan. 10.
Sutton said that social media has been making the recruitment process easier than it was in the past. He also finds new players through current team members.
Additionally, for several years now the team has been hosting their ID night, an event that reunites the top potential recruits. It’s a chance for Sutton to assess the more specific details of rookies’ abilities and see whether they’d be a good fit. This year, their ID night has been especially positive.
Sutton began signing players a while ago. One of them, 21-year-old defender Zackiel Brault — who formerly played with the Montreal Impact Academy and FC Laval — was recruited last winter.
“The Stingers are creating a really good team and they’re getting big players,” Brault said in response to why he chose Concordia. He also said that he wanted to experience varsity soccer and was attracted by the league, the players, and the level of play.
Kerlegrand emphasized the team’s need for a good defensive line and Brault hopes he can bring value to the team with his 16 years of play.
“He’s just a complete defender, very difficult to beat,” said Sutton. “Offensively, he’s good on the ball and is able to keep possession for us in the back.”
Sutton also said that with so many players leaving, the team’s needs are “across the board.”
“We’re losing forwards, midfielders, defenders,” he explained. “One of the things we do when we recruit is we focus on the areas of need, but frankly, when you lose ten players, your needs are pretty much throughout the field.”
However, he said that attacking play is the main area they will practice once they get back on the field in the winter.
Nonetheless, both Kerlegrand and Sutton are very optimistic about next season.
“We’re excited, it’s a new era starting this upcoming fall,” Kerlegrand said. “We’re losing a few veteran players, so we’re in the unknown. However, that’s what excites us so much.”
He’s also certain the rookies will acclimate well to the team.
“We love having rookies,” he added. “Last year, we made the rookies feel comfortable right at the start and they integrated themselves really well.”
“I think that we have a good group of guys that are returning,” said Sutton. “We’re hopeful that they’re going to continue to grow and get better. Then, it’s just the transition of our new players that are coming in, to try and best prepare them with the time we have.”