Muskie boys clinch top spot

Joey Payeur

The Muskie boys’ soccer team is a runaway train right now and its two NorWOSSA rivals have to be feeling like they are tied to the tracks.
Fort High nailed down first place—and a bye to the league final here May 27—following a pair of victories last Wednesday in Dryden.
The Muskies (4-0) dumped the host Eagles 5-1 in their first game, then blanked the Kenora Broncos 3-0.
“That was our first goal was to get the bye,” said coach Shane Beckett, whose team has outscored its opponents 14-1 in the four games so far.
“Now we have some team-level goals to accomplish.”
Fort High—gunning for its fifth-straight NorWOSSA title—only beat the Eagles 2-0 in its regular-season opener here the previous week.
But were much more relaxed and in sync in the rematch last Wednesday in Dryden, scoring all of its goals before halftime.
“We were a lot looser and knew what we were getting into,” noted Beckett.
“We capitalized in front of the goal, and what we’ve been working on in practice the boys are taking to heart.”
Beckett was encouraged by the team’s balanced attack as five different Muskies scored (Isaac Firth, Cam Lidkea, Tyler Ruppenstein, Adam Stromberg, and Connor Bujold).
“We rolled the bench and the scoring is coming from everywhere,” he lauded.
Dryden’s goal scorer was not available at press time.
Ruppenstein’s effort on a goalmouth scramble gave him his first goal of the season in what’s been an unusual one so far for the fifth-year player.
“We’re asking different things of [Ruppenstein] this year,” noted Beckett.
“We’ve dropped him back to the midfield, which works well with the personnel that we have,” he remarked.
“We’ve asked a lot out of him and he’s come through.”
As for Firth and Stromberg, who also nabbed their first goals of the season against Dryden, Beckett said, “They’ve been working hard all year and do everything in practice we ask.
“It’s nice to see them rewarded for their work,” he added.
Lidkea and Bujold each netted their second of the season to tie Joey Angus, Ian Jodoin, and Max Williams for the team lead.
Then against Kenora, Jodoin, Williams, and Kevin Metke (first of the season) all cashed in on their scoring chances within the first 30 minutes of the game.
“We’ve really been working on quick distribution of the ball when we’re on the attack, being more vocal, and timing our runs properly,” Beckett said.
“It’s all starting to click now.”
Rookie keeper Cole Kowalski got the win in both games with veteran Gavin Richardson not available for the day due to academic commitments.
Kowalski is now 3-0 with two shutouts during the regular season, surrendering just one goal.
Ruppenstein, who didn’t play against Kenora after turning his ankle against Dryden, joins veteran Kirk Johnson (hamstring) on the list of walking wounded for the black-and-gold right now.
“We would rather have both of them at 100 percent at the end of the month when we really need them than at 75 percent part way through the season,” reasoned Beckett.
“Do we want them on the field? You bet,” he stressed.
“Are we better with them on the field? You bet.
“But that being said, Liam Metke has been really good filling in and we’ve got some great young midfielders like [Lidkea] and Chase McGuire,” Beckett added.
The Muskies closed out the regular season today in Kenora, where they once again faced the Eagles and Broncos.