“We played with heart.”
That comment by Muskie soccer co-captain Andrew Curr just moments after the team’s season—and his career with the black-and-gold—ended on a warm and windy Saturday afternoon in Wawa.
In the aftermath of a 3-0 defeat at the hands of the St. Ignatius Falcons (Thunder Bay), it would have been easy for the Muskies to lament about lost opportunities or poor officiating or windy weather.
Instead, coach Rick Chambers heaped praise on his troops.
“The boys played well in Wawa,” he noted. “They dominated the host team, and for the first 15 minutes controlled play against Thunder Bay.
“We lost our composure a bit after that, but the effort was there,” he stressed.
The NWOSSAA playoff had started well for the Muskies with a 2-0 win that morning over host Wawa.
Matt Basaraba, on a perfectly-executed direct kick from just outside the 18-yard box, and Craig McTavish, who deflected in another Basaraba direct kick, scored for Fort High.
The starters then gave way to first- and second-year players in the second half, with Chambers noting “our spares were very, very good.”
Their second game against St. Ignatius was the sternest test the Muskies had faced as season. But jumping out of the gate with fire, the black-and-gold put the Falcons back on there heels for the first 10 minutes of play.
Just three minutes in, Basaraba made a long dash to the net in search of a rebound, accidentally stepping on the St. Ignatius keeper’s hand and sending him to the sidelines with a suspected dislocated finger.
The physical play continued, with the Falcons drawing first blood on a wild scramble in the Muskies’ six-yard box. Muskie keeper Kurtis Carlson could not corral the ball, nor could his defenders boot it out, as the Falcons banged it home for a 1-0 lead.
Just 12 minutes later, a perfect cross from the left side produced Thunder Bay’s second goal for a 2-0 lead at the half.
St. Ignatius clinched the win, and a berth in the all-Ontarios, with a third goal midway through the second half to round out the scoring.
(The Falcons are the top seed at the all-Ontarios, which get underway tomorrow).
For nine graduating Muskies (Curr, Basaraba, Rick Ricard, Bryan Chambers, Chris Faragher, Andrew Mueller, Kyle McTavish, Tanner Kaemingh, and Tyler Barker), it likely was their final game in a black-and-gold uniform.
Coach Chambers acknowledged their contribution to the program.
“Our starting players are outstanding, a lot of them could play at the university level,” he said. “There’s no reason they couldn’t go on and play soccer on a university-type team.”
Not overlooked, either, was the play of the younger players. “Even without our graduating players, we’re going to have the skill to win another NorWOSSA championship,” said Chambers, who already is looking ahead to the 2004-05 campaign.
“With Thunder Bay seeded [first] at OFSAA, that says a lot about our team. It shows how good we really are,” he stressed.
“We played with heart.”