Boys heading to North Shore for NWOSSAA

When it comes to scoring goals Muskie style, two heads are better than one.
Riding a pair of clutch headers by strikers Chris Plett and Matt Basaraba, the Muskie boys’ soccer team built a quick 2-0 lead en route to a 4-1 victory over the Rainy River Owls in the NorWOSSA final last Thursday afternoon in Kenora.
Plett opened the scoring just minutes into the game with a deft header of a Basaraba cross.
Then scant seconds later, he took a pass from defender Jake Esselink and blasted up the right side of the field before crossing the ball to an open Basaraba, who headed it in just five minutes into the title match.
From then on, it was all Muskies as they fired 12 first-half balls at the Rainy River keeper.
And their persistence paid off late in the first half when an unbelievable back foot pass from Basaraba sprang Tanner Kaemingh breaking up the right side.
He then dished inside to Bryan Chambers, and finally to Andrew Mueller as he cruised to his left just outside the 18-yard box, who then fired a low hard drive inside the left post for a 3-0 Muskie advantage at the half.
Meanwhile, the black-and-gold’s starting unit—with Basaraba and Plett up front, Scott McFayden, Chambers, Kyle McTavish, and Kaemingh at midfield, and Chris Faragher, Mueller, Andrew Curr, and Esselink defending—smothered the Owls’ offence, allowing just one shot at keeper Kurtis Carlson in the opening half.
Rainy River did mount a stronger game in the second half, and a goal by Joel Ashworth cut the Muskie lead to 3-1 with just over 15 minutes to play.
However, Mueller and Plett teamed up for the fourth Fort High goal late in the game.
The play began when Mueller knocked down a clearing pass at midfield, dribbled up field and inside the Owls’ 18, then scorched a shot at the Rainy River keeper, who kept it out but lost control of the rebound.
That allowed Plett to punch home his second goal of the game.
Earlier Thursday, the Muskies routed Sioux Lookout 8-0 in the semi-finals while the Owls prevailed over Dryden 3-1.
The black-and-gold counted four goals in the first half and four more in the second against the Warriors, with “Bazzy” (two), Kaemingh, and foreign exchange student Rico scoring in the first.
Scott McFayden, Lucas Romaniuk, Tyson Quibell, and Kevin Plett were the goal scorers in the second half against Sioux Lookout.
In pool play on Wednesday, the Muskies dominated the Kenora Broncos, winning 3-1 on goals by Tyler Barker (two) and Basaraba, then blanked Dryden 3-0 (Kaemingh, Basaraba, and Rico).
Muskie coaches Rick Chambers and Shane Beckett were pleased with the wins.
“Talent alone doesn’t win championships, effort wins championships . . . we know that other teams set their sights on beating the Muskies and we have to work hard to win,” said Chambers.
He added the younger players “have gained our confidence with some strong play during this tournament.”
Beckett said he was pleased that even the officiating crews recognized the calibre of the Muskie squad, and cited veteran defenders Faragher, Mueller, Curr, and Esselink as being key cogs in bringing another NorWOSSA title back to Fort High.
“Tyler Barker was also on fire all day Wednesday, scoring a pair of goals against Kenora, but had to leave for a hockey tryout in B.C. on Thursday,” Beckett added.
The boys now await the winner of both the Thunder Bay and North Shore leagues.
What is known is that they’ll drive to the North Shore winner Friday morning for a two-game, round-robin NWOSSAA tournament to decide which of the three teams will travel to the all-Ontarios in Pickering early next month.