Muskie girls ready for semi-final test

Lucas Punkari

For the first time in a number of years, a case can be made for any of the three teams in the NorWOSSA girls’ soccer circuit to win the league title today in Dryden.
With her team preparing for a semi-final tilt with the host Eagles this morning, Muskie head coach Sarah Faragher is hoping her squad is the one that peaks at the right time.
“I think that all teams are all pretty close as there hasn’t been any one team that has opened up a huge lead on the rest of the field,” she explained.
“All of the games have been close out on the pitch all year, and it’s really about what team is playing best on the final day that is going to win it,” Faragher added.
“We’re working hard right now to make sure that we are the team that is able to achieve that.”
The black-and-gold wrapped up the six-game regular season with a 2-3-1 mark, which allowed them to escape the cellar, where they had finished during the last two years.
“I’m just really happy with how everyone has continued to step their play up,” Faragher enthused.
“Our back line has been very solid and they have allowed few scoring chances, and we are also generating a lot of chances offensively,” she noted.
“I would love to see us capitalizing on more of those scoring opportunities, though, and that is something we will be working on here this week.”
Fort High actually had a chance to earn a bye straight into today’s final during their last game of the regular season in Kenora last Wednesday, but they came out on the losing end of a 1-0 decision to the host Broncos.
“Both us and Kenora are equally strong teams, so we have had really good games against them all year,” said central mid-fielder Taylor Hazel.
“We had played them to a 3-3 tie the week before that in Dryden, so we know that we can play well against them,” she reasoned.
“And I think the biggest thing that we need to focus on for NorWOSSA is that we need to be taking a lot more shots.
“We can out-possess them for the whole game and look like the better team,” noted Hazel.
“But if we can’t score, they are able to get their chances and capitalize on [them].”
Earlier in the day last Wednesday, the Muskies prevailed against the Eagles—winning 1-0 on Maryam Seid’s second-half goal.
“We had really good possession of the ball for about 90 percent of the game,” Hazel recalled.
“Our passing was really strong throughout the contest and we were able to send a lot of balls towards the net,” she added.
While time of possession has been one of the Muskies’ major strengths during the regular season, the team is working on making sure the other aspects of their game are in tip-top shape heading into the playoffs.
“We really need to work on our crosses, along with finishing our chances when we get the ball near the net,” admitted Grade 10 defender Angel McCormack.
“We just can’t seem to get the ball in the air half of the time on our crosses, so we have been working on that in practice.
“Plus, we will also need to get to the ball first on our corner kicks and our goal kicks,” she stressed.
Although the Muskies held a 2-1 advantage over the Eagles in their head-to-head meetings during the regular season, Faragher expects the hosts of today’s NorWOSSA playoffs to be right with them when they kick-off their semi-final tilt.
“They [Dryden] are a deceptive team and although I think we out-possess them, they still have that ability to have the breakaway chance that they can bury,” she warned.
“It might not be as physical a game as we are used to, but we have to make sure that we are on our game the whole time against them,” Faragher stressed.
In addition to capturing the NorWOSSA crown, the winner of today’s final also will represent the league at the OFSAA ‘AA’ championships June 6-8 in Tecumseh.