Boys’ season finishes on losing note

Even though the Muskie boys’ soccer season came to an abrupt end with a pair of losses at the NWOSSAA playoffs in Marathon on Saturday, the coaches still came away with the feeling of satisfaction.
Not blessed with an array of talent, the black-and-gold had a successful run in pre-season tournaments and then upset the Dryden Eagles here to win the NorWOSSA crown.
But the black-and-gold’s streak ground to a halt in Marathon, where they opened play with a disappointing 2-1 loss to the host team in penalty kicks.
Trailing 1-0, Adam McTavish tied the game for the Muskies to force overtime. When that failed to decide anything, penalty kicks were needed to determine the winner.
McTavish, Daniel Ribeiro, and Colin Wielinga all scored for the Muskies on penalty kicks but Josiah Morris and Andy Hallikas each missed on their attempts.
Marathon scored on all four of their attempts (the fifth shot was not needed) to nail down the win.
Head coach Keith Gilbert said the loss was disheartening given the Muskies had outplayed Marathon.
“It was just one of those games that the ball just wasn’t going to bounce our way,” he noted. “We were consistently first to the ball and we controlled the game.
“[Keeper] Jordan [Roy] hardly touched the ball in the second half.”
“We started out flat but after they scored their goal, we totally took over and held the play and the ball,” echoed assistant coach Jason Kabel, adding the Muskies had “four or five” quality chances to take the lead.
Gilbert also said losing to Marathon made it difficult to face a very tough Thunder Bay opponent in St. Ignatius in a must-win situation that afternoon.
“To beat St. Ignatius or any other Thunder Bay team, you have to play your best and have other things go your way,” he noted.
“And one of those things would have been to beat Marathon to gain the confidence of having a win under your belt and the thought of winning one more game to advance to OFSAA,” he added.
But playing without their leading scorer in Ribeiro, out with an ankle injury, and with several other players fighting nagging injuries, the Muskies fell 4-0 to the talented Falcons.
“Man-to-man, they have an extremely skilled team that, coupled with their tenacity of getting first to the ball, makes them a very tough team,” noted Gilbert.
“They play very well as a team.”
“They had terrific talent,” agreed Kabel. “It was nice to see, and play, against a talented club. They had one player who scored on a nice shot from about 35 yards out that we applauded.”
But he also said the Muskies had no reason to hang their heads.
“We’re quite proud of the kids because they never quit and in the last game they were playing for pride. They played well,” he stressed.
“I think, in reality, our goal is to win NorWOSSA. It would have been nice to win NWOSSAA but we still had a very good year,” echoed Gilbert. “The kids played really well as a team and they had a good season.”
Still, he also said the loss was tough on many of the veterans, who would have liked to go up against St. Ignatius with a full complement of players.