Muskie girls set focus on finishing

Joey Payeur

The chances are there, the shots are flying, but the ball isn’t finding the target.
So goes the story on offence for the Muskie girls’ soccer team, which owned the ball but not the scoreboard in their final two NorWOSSA regular-season games last Wednesday in Kenora.
After scoring 13 goals in their first four games, Fort High only managed one all day in tying the Dryden Eagles 1-1 and then battling the host Broncos to a scoreless draw.
The squad has just one win in its past four outings.
But the two draws last Wednesday were good enough to give the Muskies (3-0-3) first place and a bye to this afternoon’s NorWOSSA final on their home turf.
Game time is 2:30 p.m.
With a win over the semi-final survivor between Dryden and Kenora from earlier today, Fort High will book its ticket to the OFSAA ‘AA’ championships for the second-straight year (this time in Wallaceburg from June 4-6).
“I don’t think it was stiffer competition,” said Muskie coach Alyssa Faragher, who ran the bench in the absence of Sarah Faragher, who was at a teachers’ conference in Thunder Bay.
“We had quite a few chances against Dryden but we didn’t finish,” she noted.
“We’re bringing it up and doing some great passing, but we’re just not getting it into the back of the net.
“It’s frustrating for the girls,” she added.
Faragher said it was the same thing against Kenora.
“We must have had 90 percent of the possession, although Kenora played a lot better than before, which is good for them, just not for us,” she remarked.
Jessica Baxter put the Muskies on the board in the 15th minute against Dryden (3-1-2), finishing off a play from in close for her team-leading fourth goal of the season.
Fort High controlled the majority of play but had a defensive breakdown with six minutes to go that cost them the victory.
“Off of a corner kick, Dryden scored when we got caught out of position,” recalled Faragher.
“But we were the stronger team out there.”
Rookie keeper Bryanna Dustin started against the Eagles, but came out midway through the second half with an undisclosed injury.
Veteran Liz Allan took over and gave up the tying goal, but then delivered the shutout in the draw with Kenora.
“I’m very excited that we clinched first place,” enthused Faragher.
“That was one of our team goals and we made it.
“[But] we’ve seen from both of the other teams that they are capable of playing with us and not letting us score,” she warned.
The Muskies welcomed veteran midfielder Hailey Beaudry back after she had missed the previous week’s action with post-concussion symptoms stemming from the game against Kenora here in the first week of the season.
That means a fully healthy roster ready to defend their NorWOSSA title in front of a home crowd that Faragher hopes will provide extra motivation for her squad.
“I think the girls like the idea of playing in front of a good crowd,” she remarked.
“They know the field and how it plays from end to end, not like Dryden’s, which kind of has a slant on both sides.
“They are capable,” Faragher added. “The goal all year has been to get back to OFSAA and they deserve it.
“They’ve worked hard all season.”
To that end, the Muskies are well aware of what part of their game they need to sharpen for the final and beyond.
“I asked the girls right after the last game, ‘So what do we need to work on in practice?’ and they all answered at once, “Finishing!” chuckled Faragher.
“They know what to do.”