Muskie boys win first two matches

Lucas Punkari

So far, so good for the Muskie boys’ soccer team after the first week of NorWOSSA play.
Heading into a pair of games today in Dryden, the defending league champs are a perfect 2-0 atop the three-team loop after blanking the Dryden Eagles 1-0 and then edging the Kenora Broncos 3-2 here last Wednesday.
“It’s pretty good to get off to a start like this,” said fourth-year player Tim Metke.
“We weren’t really happy with our game against Dryden, as we got off to a bit of a shaky start, but we were still able to come out with the win,” he noted.
“As the day went on, we started to communicate better and we were moving the ball a lot faster, and it felt great to use that to our advantage against Kenora.
After a scoreless first half in their morning game against the Eagles, the Muskies found themselves with some extra space to work with on the pitch after Dryden’s Grant Valiquette was handed a red card (ejection) shortly before halftime.
The black-and-gold took advantage of their opportunity early in the second half as Colton Spicer found the back of the net for the game-winning goal.
“We were not playing our game in the first half,” stressed Muskie head coach Shane Beckett.
“Things were getting a little chippy out there and instead of sticking to our systems, we let them [Dryden] get into our heads,” he noted.
“We had a good talk with the boys at halftime, and in the second half they came out like gangbusters.”
Despite dropping their first game of the season, Eagles’ coach Conor Doherty was pleased with how his team played just with 10 men in the second half.
“I thought we got a little bit more comfy out there as the game went on, despite being down a man,” said Doherty, whose team battled Kenora to a scoreless draw later that afternoon.
“In the first half, I think we were a little bit slow starting,” he added. “Our first touch was a little bit sloppy, and we were also giving them [the Muskies] way too much time on the ball.
“We did play a lot better later on but as you can see with the final score, Fort Frances were a team that was a lot sharper than we were.”
In their second game of the day last Wednesday, the black-and-gold found themselves trailing Kenora 1-0 midway through the first half when Metke scored an early candidate for goal-of-the-season.
The right fullback put everything he had into a free kick from 30 yards out, then watched in delight as the ball dipped under the crossbar to give tie the game.
“Honestly, I was just trying to put it towards the back post,” Metke smiled.
“I wasn’t really trying to score, but the wind just carried it for me and it was a pretty good way to score my first-ever goal after a four-year wait,” he added.
Metke’s highlight-reel goal was all the momentum Fort High needed as Brandon Sinclair and Jason Angus scored soon afterwards to help their team go on to the 3-2 win.
“I thought we played a lot better in that second game, as we used our system to our advantage and showed what we were capable of doing,” Beckett noted.
“We had a number of chances in the second half, but we just couldn’t the ball into the net,” he added.
“And despite giving up two goals, I thought we did a great job in defending.”
On the other sideline, Broncos’ coach Greg Fair was experiencing a case of déja vu in his squad’s loss to the Muskies.
“A similar thing happened to us a couple of weeks ago in Winnipeg against [St. John’s] Ravenscourt, as we got out in front early and let them come back and win,” Fair recalled.
“We let our frustrations get the best of us here, and I also think the heat got a bit to the players, as well,” he noted.
“That’s a good indication for the guys that they have a lot of condition work to do in order to improve their game.”
The Muskies then headed to Kenora over the weekend for a tournament, where they finished with a 2-2 mark.
After a pair of losses to Miles Mac (Winnipeg) and St. Thomas Aquinas (Kenora) on Saturday, Brandon McGinnis carried the load offensively for Fort High on Sunday, scoring all of his team’s goals in a 2-1 win over Spring Christian Academy (Winnipeg) and a 1-0 triumph over the host Broncos.
“Brandon was a little bit sluggish in the first day of the tournament, but on Sunday whenever he had a chance to score a goal, he capitalized,” Beckett remarked.
“He’s been improving a lot over the last couple of weeks, and he’s starting to learn that he doesn’t need to fire a howitzer in order to find the back of the net.”