Muskie boys make history

Joey Payeur

Every coach hopes their team wins the last game of the season.
That usually means a championship has been won. But for the five-time defending NorWOSSA champion Muskie boys’ soccer team, this victory was special in its own right.
Isaac Firth netted the only goal of the game with eight minutes left in regulation time as Fort High edged the Honourable W.C. Kennedy Collegiate Institute Clippers (Windsor) 1-0 on Friday to finish in fourth place in Pool ‘A’ with a 2-2 record at the OFSAA ‘AA’ playdowns in North Bay on Friday.
While the black-and-gold finished one point out of second place and a quarter-final berth, it was the first time a Muskie boys’ soccer team recorded two wins at the all-Ontarios.
“We celebrated like we’d won a championship because we knew we had done something [Fort High] had never done before,” said head coach Shane Beckett, whose team handed the Clippers (3-1) their only loss in pool play.
“As a teacher who gets involved with high school sports, this is why you do it,” he remarked.
“You go into OFSAA knowing it’s not just about medals, but that different victories at different times are going to be impactful for these kids.”
The Muskies were 1-1 after splitting their two games Thursday, with a chance to put themselves in prime position to earn a playoff spot.
But after controlling most of the game, the black-and-gold fell 1-0 to the top-ranked Ascension of Our Lord Eagles (Mississauga) on a goal in injury time that eliminated them from playoff contention.
“The guys were pretty down knowing we were out of the playoffs,” admitted Beckett, whose team went up against the Clippers without injured veteran midfielders Tyler Ruppenstein and Ian Jodoin.
“But that’s where you have to believe other guys will step up—and they did.”
The Muskie girls’ squad, meanwhile, made plenty of good memories in their second-straight appearance at OFSAA in Wallaceburg.
But the two-time NorWOSSA champs were unable to at least match their 1-3-1 record of a year ago after finishing last in Pool ‘D’ at 0-4.
“I thought the girls played so well and I’m so proud of what they accomplished,” said Muskie co-coach Alyssa Faragher, who handled the duties with Sarah Faragher unable to attend due to work commitments.
“We made every team we faced work for what they got.”
Fort High dropped their first two games Thursday—losing 2-0 to the eighth-seeded Wallaceburg Tartans and 4-3 to the unseeded St. Paul Wolverines (Mississauga).
Needing a win to stay alive in the playoff chase, the unseeded Muskies were blanked 4-0 by the fourth-ranked St. Mary’s College Knights (Sault Ste. Marie) on Friday morning.
With pride left to play for in their final pool game that afternoon, Fort High stayed close to the unseeded and eventual bronze-medalist Bayside Red Devils (Quinte West) for the first half.
But trailing only 1-0 at halftime, a fatigued Muskie crew eventually fell 5-1.
Erin Tomalty netted the Muskies’ lone goal on a penalty kick late in the second half.
“They improved every game they went out there, and they also saw other teams and what else they can improve on,” noted Faragher.