Saturday, September 20, 2014

Muskie boys go winless at OFSAA

Shane Beckett’s troops are too proud to be happy with simply staying even with their opponent.
Under Beckett’s guidance, the Muskies managed a 0-0 draw against the seventh-seeded St. Joseph’s Rams (St. Thomas) in their final game at the OFSAA ‘AA’ boys’ soccer championships in Leamington—giving them a 0-3-1 record in their fourth-straight appearance at the all-Ontarios.

“They were upset, for sure,” Beckett said about his team not being able to end their stay with a victory.
“We know we are capable,” he added. “We always play to win every game.
“We should have won that game and put that team away,” Beckett stressed.
“We were very happy with the way we played, but you’re never happy to not win a game you should win,” he reasoned.
When all was said and done, it mostly was a case of close but no cigar throughout the tourney for the Muskies.
Two of Fort High’s three losses were by one goal—and both were within their grasp until the late stages.
The top-ranked Ecole secondaire catholique l’Essor Aigles (Tecumseh) needed a goal off a scramble in front following a free kick 10 minutes into the second half to pull out a 1-0 win in the Muskies’ opening match last Thursday.
“We pushed hard and had several free kicks in the last 10 minutes, but could not find the net,” recalled Beckett.
“It was the most complete game we have ever played at OFSAA,” he added.
“I think the boys know we deserved [a winning] result and they know there isn’t a team our pool we can’t beat.”
Things took a turn for the worse in their second game Thursday, with Beckett describing his team as “flat” in a 4-0 loss to the unseeded Holy Trinity Catholic Secondary School Titans (Courtice).
With a new day Friday came a renewed spirit, however, as Fort High grabbed its first lead of the tournament against the unseeded Jean Vanier Catholic High School Jaguars (Richmond Hill) on Ian Jodoin’s goal with 10 minutes left in the first half.
But the Jaguars kept pushing and eventually tied the game 10 minutes into the second half, then scored the game-winner five minutes later for a 2-1 final.
“We pushed hard with two free kicks and a corner kick in the last minutes but could not equalize,” said Beckett, who chastised those who considered the team’s OFSAA experience this year as disappointing.
“I was a bit upset to hear that, actually,” he admitted.
“Two one-goal games that were both winnable and a tie is very good for our program that only started competition on May 12.
“So, less than a month later, we were competing against the top teams in the province despite all the weather setbacks,” Beckett added.
“Am I disappointed we couldn’t convert those two losses into wins? You bet.
“Am I disappointed by the level of soccer we demonstrated or the boys’ effort? No way.”
Beckett knows closing the gap between the Muskies and the province’s best teams won’t be easy.
“Our biggest problem is with a lack of competitive club systems in our area,” he remarked.
“Our players miss out on many of the opportunities to gain the polish needed to compete at this level.
“Our systems are sound, our effort is outstanding, but our finishing in front of the goal—that polish—is what we lack,” Beckett explained.
“At this level, you need to take advantage of any opportunity because they could be few.
“The teams we play take advantage. We have yet learned how to do that.
“It’s not a matter of desire or effort,” he stressed. “It’s the polish that comes from years and years of competitive soccer—indoor, outdoor, club, high school, regional teams, etc.”
Beckett expounded on that concept.
“We have a four-week season and our players have played competitively for no more than four years,” he noted.
“The teams we play play year-round in established competitive programs and play together outside of school.
“Many of them play competitively for more than four years before they even get to high school,” Beckett added.
“To add to that, these teams don’t have to develop players like we do because of the club systems, so they carry mostly seniors and fifth-year players on their teams,” he continued.
“For us to have only five seniors shocks [other] coaches at OFSAA.”
With the dust just settling on the past season, Beckett already is crafting a vision of what awaits next year’s black-and-gold crew in their “Drive for Five.”
“We look good, really good for next year,” he pledged.
“If all goes as planned, we could have at least 20 returning players and 11 seniors, so we are very excited about the opportunity next year.”

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