Preparing for the season months in advance

What the Stingers soccer coaches are looking for during the winter season

After playing in the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) fall season, the Concordia Stingers soccer teams returned to the pitch for the winter season. The teams use the winter season for training, and even though they play seven games against teams in their league, results aren’t a priority for head coaches Jorge Sanchez and Greg Sutton. The Concordian talked to each coach about how they use the winter season to prepare their team for the fall.

Women’s team

The women’s team missed the playoffs by two points in the fall season, finishing in sixth place out of eight teams with a 3-7-4 record. Head coach Jorge Sanchez has the luxury of keeping almost his entire team intact for next season, as only graduating midfielder Alice Grandpierre is certain to leave the team.

“We have a good core of players, so it’s about figuring out who’s good in the system,” Sanchez said. “Towards the end of the season, we discovered how we wanted to play, and we discovered certain tactical changes that worked. […] So it’s just reinforcing it and getting players comfortable with it.”

Madeleine McKenzie prepares to throw the ball in during a game on Feb. 4. Photo by Mackenzie Lad.

Sanchez noted that, even though the winter season is used to prepare for the fall season, he still wants his players to focus on staying competitive by winning.

“Part of the culture at this level is being part of a winning team, and you want to do that by winning games,” he said.

Despite frigid temperatures and a constant reminder that it’s not typical soccer weather outside, Sanchez said players know they need to commit to the Stingers in the winter as much as they do in the fall season.

“When we recruit them, we tell them if they come to Concordia, they will be playing soccer for an entire school year,” Sanchez said. “It’s not an off-season. It’s not a recreational time.”

Men’s team

The men’s team finished in sixth place out of seven teams in the RSEQ with a 3-8-1 record. In November, Sutton told The Concordian the season was marred by injuries, and there wasn’t enough experience on the team to replace the injured players.

In the winter league, he’s looking to play some younger players and players who didn’t compete as much during the fall season.

“We use [the winter season] as a testing ground for some of the guys who didn’t get to play in the fall, to see how they’re growing,” Sutton said. “And for our guys who played a regular role in the fall season, they need to continue to improve.”

During the team’s first three winter games, Sutton said forwards Simon Malaborsa, who led the team in scoring last fall with six goals in 12 matches, and Peter Campbell, who had two goals, have impressed him the most.

“When you have guys who come from the fall and they had a good season, you expect them to do that in the winter, and those two guys have done that,” Sutton said.

The Stingers also have two players on their winter team who didn’t play in the fall. According to Sutton, twins Andres and Martin Lopez had to sit out the season after transferring from the United States, but they will be playing next fall.

“Those two have a great ability on the ball,” Sutton said. “Now, we just need to make them understand what it takes to be successful in our league and the physicality they need to come with.”

So far this season, the men have a 3-0 record, and the women are 2-1. Their next games are on Feb. 11 at the Stingers Dome against McGill.

Main photo by Mackenzie Lad. Video by Matthew Coyte and Antoine Heuillard.


Jorge Sanchez has put his players first since 2002

Veteran head coach, in his 16th season, emphasizes work ethic, responsibility and having fun

When The Concordian approached women’s soccer head coach Jorge Sanchez about doing an interview for a profile of him, he was hesitant.

“It’s not about me,” Sanchez said. “It’s about the players.”

Sanchez has become synonymous with the Concordia Stingers women’s soccer team. Ever since taking over the role in July 2002, the coach has worked to improve the program.

Sanchez began his coaching career with the Lakeshore Soccer Club and also coached at John Abbott College. After coaching in the West Island, he moved to the provincial level, where he helped Quebec’s under-15 and under-17 women’s teams. From 1997 to 2001, he was an assistant coach for the national team’s training program, where he would train Quebec prospects who were considered hopefuls for the Canadian national team.

In 2002, the Stingers were looking for a full-time coach. Sanchez said he found himself at a professional crossroads.

“I didn’t want to go back to coaching club,” he said. “One morning, I was reading the paper and saw a job posting for head coach of the women’s team at Concordia […] so I said, ‘I’m going to take a chance, apply and see what happens.’”

Sanchez talks to his players ahead of practice. Photo by Matthew Coyte.

Fifteen years later, that leap of faith has paid off. “I now find myself being one of the more senior coaches in the department. I kind of like that role,” Sanchez said.

“I like to think that I’m a player’s coach, who trusts his players and demands loyalty from my players—not to me, but to the program,” he said.

“I’m not someone that is going to yell and scream all the time, but I have standards and I expect players to live up to them,” Sanchez said. “But I like to think that when they need me, I’m there.”

His players seem to agree. “He is a very committed coach,” said fourth-year midfielder Alice Grandpierre. “[He] will do anything in his power to do what is best for the team and his players.”

Third-year midfielder Laura Lamontagne added that a running joke for the players on the team has been Sanchez’s use of Twitter, where he is constantly updating scores and news related to the team.

“In a way, it’s funny, but it also shows how much he takes his coaching role seriously and wants our program to get more recognition,” Lamontagne said.

The veteran head coach has always been very adamant about supporting his players and helping them with what he calls his three pillars.

The first pillar is to remember to have fun. “Soccer is a game. If you’re not having fun doing it, you should probably be looking somewhere else,” he said.

For the second pillar, Sanchez wants players to be a part of the total student-athlete experience.

“It’s not just about the sport. They have to be successful in the classroom to even be eligible to play,” he said. “I want to create an enriching but competitive environment. Very positive, very supportive environment […] never forgetting that on Tuesdays and Thursdays at practice, they’re competing to get on the field as starters.”

Lastly, Sanchez wants players to take responsibility for their actions, both on and off the field. “As individuals, are they doing everything in their control to be successful?”

As much as the veteran head coach enjoys winning, that’s not the main focus of his job.

“You want good soccer players, but I hope I’m helping [the players] become good people as well,” he said.

While Sanchez is not at the end of his career just yet, he said he wants to retire with the Concordia Stingers.

“This will probably be my last coaching role. I’ve put so much time and energy into this, it would be hard to start over somewhere else because this is my passion,” he said. “It’s intertwined with who I am as a person.”

Main photo by Matthew Coyte


Stingers honour Erica Cadieux in draw versus UQTR

Concordia collected donations, gifts for Children’s Hospital in memory of former student-athlete

The Concordia Stingers women’s soccer team tied 2-2 against the Université de Québec à Trois-Rivières Patriotes in the Erica Cadieux Memorial Game on Sept. 22.

For a 12th year in a row, the Stingers held a game in memory of Cadieux, a former Stingers soccer player. She played for Concordia from 1992 to 1994, while double-majoring in political science and Spanish.

Cadieux was killed after being hit by a car while walking with her 18-month-old daughter, who survived, in Beaconsfield on Jan. 27, 2006. Every year since, her family and friends gather at Concordia Stadium to remember her.

“We can’t express enough our gratitude to the university for this honour,” said Yolanda Cadieux, Erica’s mother. “It’s just been wonderful for our family.”

Yolanda said that after Erica’s death, some of her former Stingers teammates wanted to come up with a way to honour their friend.

“We wanted this to be a meaningful thing, something she would be proud of,” Yolanda said. “We decided the Montreal Children’s Hospital would be our focus, and we would try and raise money [for the hospital].” While Erica was a student at Concordia, she volunteered in the neurological wing of the Montreal Children’s Hospital.

The Stingers women’s soccer team accepted donations and gifts for kids at the game, which they send to the Children’s Hospital. This year, the Stingers said they received over $500 in donations, plus multiple children’s toys and games.

This year’s game featured a different way to honour Erica—her family, her former teammates and Stingers alumni gathered for a reception before the game.

“We had former players here from the late 1980s,” said head coach Jorge Sanchez. “We told [the current players], ‘Some of you weren’t even born when they played here, but you all have something that unites you together.’” Current and former players shared their connection with soccer and the Stingers, two things Erica loved most.

“[The Stingers were] everything for Erica,” Yolanda said. “It was what made Concordia great for her, because I think there’s something about the friendship you have in a sports setting that transcends the school.”

Every year, Erica’s widowed husband, Carlo Spadafora, would bring their daughters, Bianca, 13, and Olivia, 12, to the game. But this year, Spadafora and the two girls were unable to make the trip to Montreal from Sault Ste-Marie, Ont. Yolanda said she was disappointed her granddaughters, who play soccer like their mom did, couldn’t go.

“I think when my granddaughters called me and told me they weren’t coming, I said, ‘You have to realize that this is a tremendous honour for the university to hold a special game in memory of your mom,’” Yolanda said.

However, the rest of Erica’s family, including her parents, sisters, nieces and nephews, were present. It gave the game a fun, family atmosphere, something rarely seen at Stingers soccer games.

Midfielder Laura Lamontagne passes the ball against the UQTR Patriotes on Sept. 22. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

Concordia got off to a weak start when defender Kate Evoy made a bad pass to the keeper, Olivia Desgroseilliers. UQTR’s Valerie Noel intercepted the ball, got past Desgroseilliers and ran in to score just 10 minutes into the game.

Evoy redeemed herself in the 27th minute when she sent forward Sarah Humes on a breakaway with a long pass. Humes made no mistake, blasting the ball past the helpless UQTR keeper.

Just two minutes later, midfielder Chama Sedki scored from a free kick 35 yards away from the net. The Stingers carried the lead into halftime, but the Patriotes tied the game at 2-2 in the 55th minute when Magali Gravel scored off a corner kick.

“I thought we had our chances just like they did, and it could have gone either way,” Sanchez said. “It was one of those games where teams were risky to try and get the win, and we ended up with the tie, so we shared the pain.”

Before the memorial game, the Concordia men’s soccer team lost 3-1 to UQTR. On Sept. 24, the women won 1-0 against the McGill Martlets, while the men lost 3-0 to McGill. Both teams will have an away game against the Sherbrooke Vert et Or on Sept. 29.

Main photo by Alex Hutchins

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