Muskie Girls repeat as NORWOSSA soccer champions

By Allan Bradbury
Staff Writer
abradbury@fortfrances.com

The Muskie girls went to Dryden as NORWOSSA soccer champions and returned home as soccer champions. A strong 6-0 performance capped the NORWOSSA season and sent them to the provincial championships.

The Muskies had a strong first half with two goals off the foot of Piper Lidkea and another from Emma Wilson. The Muskies added three more in the second half, with Lidkea capping the hattrick and Makayla Gibbs and Payton Dolyny adding on as well. Goalkeeper McKenna McTavish had the shutout for her 9th clean scoresheet of the season.

Head coach Chris Sinclair says after a season where they didn’t lose to a divisional opponent, they needed to go into the game strong.

“The biggest message going into today to the girls was we couldn’t be complacent,” Sinclair said. “We needed to go to Dryden with the mentality that we were going to play with intensity and determination to defend the NORWOSSA trophy, and that’s exactly what the girls did today.”

Finishing at the top of the division was key to the Muskies’ success, according to Sinclair.

“Finishing first place in the NORWOSSA season is a huge advantage,” Sinclair said. “Having the second and third place teams play in the semi-finals in the morning while the first place team gets a bye to the finals in the afternoon is a benefit and proved to play in our favour today.”

The semi-final game between Beaver Brae Secondary School and Dryden High School was a tight game and went to extra time which gave Beaver Brae a bit less time to recover between matches.

The team only really struggled against St. Thomas Aquinas High School– which plays in the single ‘A’ division– all season. Sinclair was happy with how the team played all year giving up only three goals to the one team.

“I’m obviously extremely proud of this group, not only because of today’s game but our season in general,” Sinclair added. “We started our season with a 2-0 loss to TA, and just moved forward from there without looking back. After that game, not just our only loss, but our only goal against, came in penalty kicks where we lost to TA again 1-0 in the Kenora tournament, which says a lot about our defensive play, as well as our ability to control the ball and dictate games. That didn’t change today as we maintained possession for much of the game.”

Sinclair said the improvements were visible and the team came together well over the course of the season.

“I think we have been playing better and better each game and the girls are playing with confidence in themselves and each other,” he said. “Which is what we are hoping to carry into next week. Many of these girls were a part of the team last year and got to experience what the competition at OFSAA is about and what to expect.”

Playing in a ‘AA’ division that has a very short soccer season and only three other teams makes it difficult for the Muskies to compete against many of the other schools at the OFSAA championship next week in St. Thomas.

“In reality, we know we are an underdog team going down to this championship, and we are going to see a higher level of play than we have seen throughout our season thus far,” Sinclair said. “Having said that, we do have girls who can put the ball in the net, we’ve gained a better sense of awareness and ability to read the field and find open space, and we are moving and controlling the ball nicely. When you put all those things together along with our ability to defend, who knows what can happen in a 60 minute soccer game. Needless to say, we’re ready and excited to make our long trip to St. Thomas for our second consecutive OFSAA appearance.”

The girls OFSAA ‘AA’ soccer championship runs from June 6-8 in St. Thomas which is south of London near the shores of Lake Erie.

The Muskie boys won their semi-final game against Dryden 1–0 on a corner kick goal from Aiden Jean, however they were hard pressed against Beaver Brae Secondary School in the finals and lost 4-0