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Wide receiver Jeremy Murphy exceeds expectations in first season

When the Concordia Stingers football team recruited wide receiver Jeremy Murphy, they were confident they were getting something good. But, they couldn’t have guessed at the time how much of an impact Murphy would have in his first season.

“I thought Murphy was a very good receiver in college, and that he could bring that talent to the university level,” said head coach Brad Collinson. “He exceeded our expectations. To do what he did in his first year is rare. I knew he had it in him. I just didn’t know he would show it this year.”

Murphy comes from the Collège Champlain-St-Lambert Cavaliers where he played in the Réseau du Sport Étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) division 3. Murphy was named the rookie of the year in his first season there in 2016, as well as being named to the offensive all-star team. Last year, he was named the best offensive player and was once again on the offensive all-star team.

In his first season with the Stingers, the Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville native caught 34 passes for 491 yards. He also scored four touchdowns in eight games, which ranked him first of all RSEQ receivers. Murphy said his first season with the Stingers was a blast.

“It was a great experience, especially for a first-year player like myself,” Murphy said. “I learned many things, on and off the field, about being on time, my occupations, school and others. On the field, you learn just by the way you listen to your coach, and then apply the instructions.”

It was clear after their first game of the season against the Carabins de Montréal that Murphy would become a staple in the Stingers offence. People around the team knew that veteran James Tyrell would be the number one receiver, so it was up to the rest of the receiving corps to prove their worth – Murphy had an instant impact.

Collinson thought Murphy developed well in his first year with the Stingers, and showed he was one of the best freshmen in the league. He said Murphy is a competitor who trusts his abilities, which explains why he had success.

“I think he became a better route runner,” Collinson said. “He always had great chances as a receiver, which is key. Those are really things we enjoyed [from] him this year. Football’s very important to him. He enjoys the sport, and that passion transferred to how he played on the field.”

Murphy’s statistics allowed him to be named the RSEQ rookie of the year earlier this month. The wide receiver said he’s happy to receive such a reward.

“Obviously I wanted to win the RSEQ rookie of the year, but it wasn’t part of my expectations [entering the season],” Murphy said. “I was just trying to make my name known, and create a spot on the team for myself, nothing more than that.”

In addition to the RSEQ rookie of the year, Murphy was named the most outstanding rookie in Canadian university football last week, a first for a Stingers player since Liam Mahoney in 2007.

Collinson said the team won’t change its coaching because of how Murphy performed in his first year. He explained that everyone will start over again next season and progress at their rhythm.

“It’s not going to put pressure on [Murphy],” Collinson said. “We just want him to have a good season, and continue to develop and trust the process we coach here at Concordia. If he does that, good things will happen.”

Pressure or not, Murphy will be a player to watch in 2020-21. Teams now know what he’s capable of, and will try to limit his production when they play against him and the Stingers.

With a new quarterback next season, as veteran Adam Vance completes his fifth and final season with the team in 2019-20, players might have an adjustment period entering the new season.

However, some of the team’s wide receivers were also playing their last season, which could put Murphy into a bigger role in 2020-21, and allow him to continue on where he left last year.

Murphy said the goal for him is just to continue developing his game and what he’s been working on since joining the team last season.

“For me, it’s just to improve on what I’ve already created,” Murphy said. “As a team, we just have to win more than we did this year, and push it to the second round of the playoffs.”

Feature photo by Kyran Thicke / Concordia Stingers

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Alex Cousineau takes on bigger responsibilities this season with the Stingers men’s hockey team

A hockey team’s coaching staff plays a key role in its team’s success. Yet, some coaching positions are less familiar than others. That would be the case of goaltender and video coaches, both occupied by Alex Cousineau with the Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team.

Cousineau joined the Stingers last season, leaving a similar position with the Collège Français de Longueuil in the Ligue de Hockey junior AAA du Québec (LHJAAAQ). It was when Stingers’s head coach Marc-André Élement looked to recruit players from the Collège Français that they met and Cousineau decided to join the team.

“He wanted to know my interest in joining their coaching staff,” Cousineau said. “I’m [now] starting my second year. It went really well last season. It was really fun. To go from Junior AAA to university hockey is completely different.”

When Cousineau joined the Stingers last season, his role focused more on the video aspect of the job. As a video coach, Cousineau works with and evaluates video sequences of the Stingers’s games. He also communicates a lot with the staff.

Cousineau takes more responsibility this season with Jim Corsi, the team’s other goaltender coach, who’s been hired as goaltending development coach by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the National Hockey League (NHL) in August 2018. He said it isn’t much different now, since he occasionally worked with Corsi and goaltenders last season.

“For sure, to be more alone this year is different,” Cousineau said. “However, the job remains similar. Last year, I worked with Jim, and we shared ideas. This year might be more about my ideas, but we’re still continuing on what we established last year. I know the guys more this year, so I’m more comfortable with them. Last year was a new environment with the goalies, so it was about getting to know them. This year’s going really well so far. I think it keeps going better and better with time.”

Cousineau said the goaltending part of his job relates a lot to the human side of the game. He explained that yes, he works with goaltenders to improve their game, and watches videos with them to see what they’re doing well and what needs work, but something key at this level is to make sure they’re in a good state of mind.

“[It’s also about their] mental preparation, you spend a lot of time with them on the road and off the ice,” Cousineau said. “It’s important to talk and make sure their life outside hockey is going well because if there’s something that doesn’t, it can affect them in hockey.”

Cousineau coached goaltenders of all ages and said that university athletes are professionals, and don’t need to always be told what to do to be better.

“With them, it’s more of a conversation,” Cousineau said. “We’ll try different stuff instead of [me telling them] to do specific things. There’s a relationship of trust with them. When they’re going well, then you know it will go well in games.”

Cousineau said the best part of this job is to be around the players and staff. Finishing a bachelor in management, the coach said this role with the Stingers is a big investment, but it’s worth it.

“We have a great group with a great coaching staff, so it’s super fun to be here,” Cousineau said. “It’s demanding weeks, asking for a lot of time, but it’s really fun and we couldn’t ask for more. The hockey caliber is also incredible. I think university hockey is underrated a lot. [People] don’t necessarily watch it, but when they come to the games they’re really impressed. I think that also makes me enjoy my job even more.”

 

Photos by Laurence B.D.

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Rookie Julian Petrilli impressing between the pipes

The Concordia Stingers men’s soccer team has 14 new players for this 2019-2020 Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) season. One of them is rookie goalkeeper Julian Petrilli, who started the first four games of his team’s campaign.

Petrilli joins the Stingers after developing his game with Les Étoiles de l’Est in Laval at the AAA level. The goalkeeper said he’s enjoying his experience with the Stingers so far and wants to gain experience during his first year of university soccer.

“It’s important to go all the way by making the playoffs and going to nationals,” Petrilli said. “However, I just want to get the taste of how does university soccer feel. I played at [an] elite level since I was a child. I just want to gain experience and have fun with the team.”

Stingers head coach Greg Sutton said Petrilli shows a lot of confidence for a first-year player. He added that Petrilli adapted quickly to university soccer since joining the team.

“We will go through some learning curves, but I think he’s done some very good things so far,” Sutton said. “His attitude has been good. He’s already come up big for us in huge moments during these first [few] games of the season. For a goalkeeper, he has the overall tools, which are needed at this level.”

Photo by Cecilia Piga

Sutton said the decision to start Petrilli the first four games of the season was an easy one, as the rookie’s attitude makes the coaching staff confident with him in goal.

“As a goalkeeper, you have to be humble, but also very confident,” Sutton said. “I think he shares both those qualities. For a first-year goalkeeper, he hasn’t really played like one. He’s been able to prepare himself for training camp, come in, and make a statement early. That’s the reason why he’s in there now, and I’m sure that’s the reason why he’ll probably stay there for the remainder of this season, and hopefully beyond.”

Petrilli said it’s great to see his hard work pay off. He added that it gives him a boost of confidence to be starting in goal.

“I’ve been really determined and committed with this team right from the start,” Petrilli said. “I’ve had a great work ethic, and I’ve always been comfortable. I had the urge and desire to win, and [Coach Sutton] gave me the opportunity to play.”

Sutton, a former professional goalkeeper who played a part of his career with the Montreal Impact in Major Soccer League (MLS), won many awards in his career and said his experience as a goalkeeper will help his relationship with Petrilli.

“It’s not really the technique that I’m going to teach him because at this stage, I think it’s very difficult to change anybody’s technique,” Sutton said. “I think it’s going to be more about the mental aspect of it, the position aspect of it, and the decision making. I think those things are going to be elements I definitely will be able to help him with.”

Sutton also explained that the game becomes faster from level to level, which asks goalkeepers to make faster decisions as well. The Stingers head coach said Petrilli will learn many things during his rookie season of university soccer.

“I think it’s the decisions he’ll have to make,” Sutton said. “He’ll need to become quicker, and continue to become more and more of a communicator. He’ll need the personality to handle adversity and not dwell on things in order to be able to move on.”

Sutton explained that the key for good goalkeepers is consistency and that this is an aspect Petrilli will need to work on at this level of the game.

“If you let things get in your head in difficult moments, it will only get worse for you,” Sutton said. “Petrilli’s not struggling with those things, but he needs to be prepared and focused mentally for those moments of adversity. As he continues to climb levels, the level of focus needs to be better and better. If [he does] that, [he’ll] have the luxury of being a real significant impact player.”

For Petrilli, it’s special to have a former professional goalkeeper as head coach. He said it makes his relationship with Sutton unique.

“It’s always an honour to play for someone who played for the Impact,” Petrilli said. “I’m of course really happy to have him as a head coach.”

In four games and 360 minutes played, Petrilli made 22 saves on 29 shots and has a 1-1-2 record.

The Stingers will play the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) Citadins on Sept. 20 at 8:15 p.m. at Stade Saputo.

 

Feature photo by Kyran Thicke

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