Muskie boys open title defence

Joey Payeur

The Muskie boys’ soccer team has made it abundantly clear that anyone wishing to take away their stranglehold on the NorWOSSA trophy had better bring their A-game.
Fort High (2-0), seeking a fifth-straight league title, opened the regular season here last Wednesday with a 2-0 win over the Dryden Eagles (0-2) and a 4-0 shutout over the Kenora Broncos (1-1).
“We started a little tight through the first half against Dryden,” noted Muskie head coach Shane Beckett.
“But we loosened up and started looking better in the second.
“Against Kenora, especially in the first half, our attack was exceptional and we kept the Broncos pinned in their own end for much of the first half,” Beckett added.
Connor Bujold’s 20-yard blast opened the scoring midway through the first half against Dryden.
The game then was halted in the 60th minute when lightning in the distance led to a half-hour delay, which was accompanied by a heavy downpour.
When the teams retook the field, Max Williams netted his first of the season for the insurance marker.
Gavin Richardson earned the shutout between the pipes.
Against Kenora, Ian Jodoin opened the scoring 20 minutes in before Joey Angus notched a pair of markers within two minutes of each other late in the half.
Cam Lidkea got credit for the Muskies’ lone second-half goal when his long clear into the Kenora box deflected in off a Broncos’ defender.
Muskie keeper Cole Kowalski earned his first NorWOSSA victory and shutout.
The black-and-gold then ventured to Thunder Bay over the weekend for three exhibition games.
In their opener, Chase McGuire’s volley from 25 yards out salvaged a 1-1 tie against the Thunder Bay Chill U14 team.
“We played a lot of our younger, newer guys in that one,” noted Beckett.
“It’s really beneficial for us to play our Grade 9s and 10s in that situation,” he reasoned.
Fort High then fell 1-0 to the St. Patrick’s Saints.
“They scored on a real nice free kick in the first couple of minutes and we just couldn’t finish on offence,” said Beckett, whose team hit the post or crossbar four different times in the game.
The Muskies then faced the Chill’s U16 junior reserve squad—a group Beckett called “the toughest team we have ever played against.”
“They’re the two-time defending Ontario Cup champions for their age group and we expected to give them a decent game,” he remarked.
“They carried a ton of possession time but we defended really well and we were probably equal in scoring opportunities.”
Veteran Muskie Kirk Johnson missed the weekend series while nursing an injured hamstring.
The Muskies were back in NorWOSSA action today in Dryden against the Broncos and host Eagles.
They have a chance to clinch first place with a sweep, combined with two losses by Kenora.
Fort High then will complete regular-season play next Wednesday in Kenora against those same two teams.
The NorWOSSA playoffs will be here May 27.