Beckett proud of Muskies’ play

Lucas Punkari

Although his team finished at the bottom of their pool without a win or a goal to their name, Muskie boys’ soccer head coach Shane Beckett felt his team has nothing to be ashamed about with the effort they put in at the OFSAA ‘AA’ championships in Stratford last week.
“I’m very proud of their work ethic as they just never quit out there,” he enthused.
“Even we were down in our third game by a wide margin, they were still flying around the field and giving 100 percent,” he noted.
“They were all really proud to be here and it’s been awesome to watch that.
After earning their first win in nearly a decade at the 2012 provincial championships in North Bay, the goal for the Muskie players was to try and earn a spot into the playoff round at OFSAA this year.
But the Muskies’ attack went stone cold during their four-game slate in Pool ‘C’ play at Stratford as they were unable to translate large amounts of possession time into goals.
“We knew coming down here that it wouldn’t be easy to score against the top teams in the province,” Beckett admitted.
“But it’s hard to look back on those one-goal losses and know that if we could have done better in the attacking third, things would have been different,” he noted.
“If you looked at our league play, especially in our home games and at the NorWOSSA final, we had a lot of one-goal games,” Beckett added.
“But if you watched the game, the margins should have been more than that.
“Our finishing is something that we work on constantly and maybe we need to find some different ways, as a coaching staff, to capitalize on those opportunities,” he remarked.
“We have lots of possession and good build-up, but in the final third [of the field] we seem to have a tough go of things.”
In their opening game Thursday morning, the Muskies came out on the short end of a 1-0 decision to the St. Martin Mustangs of Mississauga, who went on to win the provincial ‘AA’ title Saturday over the Port Hope Spartans.
“We played pretty well overall, and we can’t be disappointing by a 1-0 loss to the third overall seed,” Beckett reasoned.
“I would have liked to have seen us play a little bit more quickly as we gave them a little bit too much space at times, and they took advantage of [it] on their goal that they scored early in the second half,” he recalled.
Their second match Thursday didn’t go as well for the black-and-gold, who fell 4-0 to the Denis O’Connor Chargers (Ajax) in a game Beckett felt was much closer than the final score indicated.
“They were a nice team but we were not outclassed in any way,” he stressed.
“They scored their first goal about 20 minutes into the game off of a free kick, but we had a couple of opportunities after that to try and tie the game up,” he noted.
“But they scored again early in the second half on a ball that our guys would have played out nine times out of 10, and it was tough for our guys to rebound emotionally from that.”
Fort High officially was eliminated from playoff contention Friday morning with a 5-0 loss to the Holy Trinity Tigers.
This was the game—despite the lopsided score—where the team’s work ethic was something Beckett was very proud of.
“We were down 5-0 with about 15 minutes to go,” he remarked. “And while lesser teams would have packed up and gone home, our guys battled through and never quit out there.
“Our Grade 12 leaders pushed and pushed to get something out of it, and if you were someone who had just shown up for the end of the match, you would have thought that it was a nil-nil game instead of what it actually was.
“I told the guys after the game that this was a signature statement about the program, and I was so proud of them for not quitting out there,” Beckett said.
Then in their final game of the tournament Friday afternoon, the Muskies turned in a strong performance against the Wellington Heights Wolverines (Mount Forest) but again came out on the losing end of a 1-0 score.
“That was a tough one,” Beckett admitted.
“We had watched the boys grow over the week and figure things out during the course of their games, and they had 60 percent of possession and some wonderful build-up in that last game,” he noted.
“[We] were deserving of so much more but we were unable to find the back of the net and they [Wellington Heights] were able to score on their opportunity on a nice-looking play.”
Although the finish to the season was not what he had envisioned, Beckett still was very pleased with how the team performed over the 2013 campaign, especially with the obstacles that were in their way before it even began.
“Considering the build-up to the season this year, where we didn’t know early on if we would even have a season [due to the labour dispute between public school teachers and the provincial government] and the challenges that we faced with the long winter, it was a difficult season in those aspects,” he explained.
“But these guys are black-and-gold through and through, and they worked through it.
“Their level of play throughout the season was strong, especially at the end of the year, and they made a real statement,” Beckett lauded.
Looking to the future, the Muskies should have a strong roster again in 2014 as they stand to return 21 players from this year’s squad.
Only Brandon Sinclair, Sam Berube, Cam Gobeil, Lucas Koomans, and Colton Craig are slated to depart from the high school ranks.
“Next year, we will have five players who will be in their senior year, and we also have 11 kids who will be returning for their Grade 11 season,” Beckett noted.
“With those 11 players who are in Grade 10 right now, it’s going to be great to see how they will develop in a couple years’ time,” he added.