Despite finishing at the bottom of the NorWOSSA regular-season standings with a 1-1-4 mark, the Muskie girls’ soccer squad feels confident heading into today’s playoff action in Kenora.
Fort High kicked things off this morning with a semi-final showdown against Dryden.
“We’ve been working on our skills a lot, and on some different plays to get ready for these games,” said Grade 11 player Emily Drouin.
“We’ve been playing pretty good lately and we’ve been improving every game, which has been the goal as we are hoping to peak at NorWOSSA,” echoed returning Grade 12 player Sara Kellar.
That improvement was evident in the first half of their regular-season finale last Wednesday in Dryden, where the black-and-gold blanked the host Eagles 3-0 thanks to a hat trick by Courtney Roach.
“We were really confident going into that game, especially coming off of our performance in our tournament here the weekend prior,” noted Muskie head coach Sarah Noonan.
“We dictated a lot of the possession against Dryden, and we were really solid from front to back, so it was a really good win for us,” she added.
It was their second win over their NorWOSSA rivals in less than a week after they earned a 2-1 victory during an exhibition showdown here back on May 13.
“That tournament really gave us confidence that we could win, and knowing that we had already beat them going into that league game really helped out, too,” Kellar stressed.
However, any momentum the Muskies may have had from notching their first league win of the season was short-lived as they were hammered 6-1 by the NorWOSSA regular-season champion Kenora Broncos later last Wednesday.
“We had a couple of injuries and a couple of girls not feeling well from the sun, so we had a short bench going into that game,” Noonan noted.
“Kenora was fresh coming off of the bus and it showed,” she added. “They were crossing well, beating us with players going forward, and they just broke us down.”
In preparation for today’s playoff games, the black-and-gold travelled to Duluth over the weekend for three exhibition contests, returning with a 1-2 record.
Maryam Seid had the lone goal for the Muskies in their 1-0 victory over the Denfeld U16s on Saturday afternoon.
That followed a 3-0 loss to the U17 team from Denfeld earlier in the day, along with a 1-0 shutout loss at the hands of Gitchi Gummi U15s.
“I wasn’t sure how we would match up against the club teams in Duluth, but we had very competitive games and matched up well against their players,” Noonan said.
“Having those three extra exhibition games allowed us to further develop as a team, with all of our players receiving significant playing time to help build up their skill level,” she reasoned.
And with two wins already in their back pocket against Dryden, the Muskies felt they had a little bit of advantage heading into this morning’s NorWOSSA semi-final, with a meeting with Kenora in the final and a chance to head to Windsor next week for the all-Ontarios at stake.
“I think we match up really well with Dryden, and we seem to playing better against them,” Noonan noted.
“We just need to play our passing game and let the ball do the work, and be consistent with that in Kenora, no matter what team we play,” she stressed.
“All of the teams in this league have their strengths and their weaknesses,” said Kellar.
“I’ve found that we’re all playing at about the same level, but the biggest thing that we have to do is just handling the different strengths that each team brings,” she remarked.
But despite having to go through two matches in one day in order to even have a shot to advance to OFSAA, the squad knows exactly what it has to do in order to accomplish its objectives.
“We just need to put everything we’ve been learning out on the field and give it a 110 percent the entire game,” said Drouin.
“If we can do that, we’ll be able to reach our goal of going to OFSAA this year,” she added.