Muskie girls soccer team returns from OFSAA

By Daniel Adam
Staff Writer

The Muskie girls soccer team returned home from their tournament in Cobourg earlier this month, and though they came back winless, head coach Chris Sinclair said the team played very well.

“I couldn’t be more proud of them for their effort,” he said. “Just to be there and compete the way that we did was an accomplishment in itself.”

Last week, Sinclair and the team also found out they earned the sportsmanship award for OFSAA’s AA girls soccer championships — a testament to their character.

“I was very pleased with how our girls competed and held their heads high each game,” he said. “They were always positive and excited to be there.”

Sinclair said one of the best things about coaching high school sports is getting to know the students on a different level outside the classroom.

“I had a really great group of girls this season,” he said. “So just being a part of the experience with them was one of the most enjoyable things.”

“If I’m looking at one particular instance (for a favourite moment), I would have to say seeing the girls be rewarded with a goal,” said Sinclair. “The joy and excitement from all 20 of them when we scored our first and only goal of the tournament is something that definitely sticks out.”

OFSAA championships are generally quite competitive since very few teams qualify.

“It’s the top 20 schools in the province, so every game is going to be a challenge,” said Sinclair. “Just judging from my previous experiences coaching the boys team at five different OFSAAs, I knew we were going to be in tough.”

On top of that, the girls were in a pool with some of the favourites to win. This included last year’s OFSAA champions, Holy Trinity Catholic High School, and St. Mary’s College, who earned the silver medal this year.

“So although the scores may say otherwise, I thought we played very well,” said Sinclair.

He said many of the teams that the Muskies played likely compete year round on many different club and divisional teams. This season, because of weather, the Fort High girls had about a month a half to practice while others were developing year round.

Sinclair has been to several OFSAAs as a coach for a variety of sports, and though he said the tournaments are usually similar in terms of the playing schedule, each one is a new experience.

“Whether it’s different locations or venues, opponents, or meeting new and different people, these are all things you try to take advantage of during these OFSAA experiences,” he said.

Sinclair said the Muskies’ trip to Cobourg was really special since it was many players’ first time at OFSAA.

“As mentioned, this was a really good group of girls,” he said. “They are a really close-knit group, so getting the opportunity to have an experience like this together was truly amazing.”

Another special part about the tournament was who the girls got to experience it with. Sisters Chloe and Payton Dolyny play on the team together. Monika Ruppenstein’s cousin Tyler is one of the assistant coaches, as is Piper Lidkea’s brother Cam.

Whitney Williamson’s mother came on the trip as a female chaperone, so the two of them got to experience OFSAA together as well.

Sinclair said some of the girls have family down in the area who were able to come watch and support. Some girls’ parents made the trip down to be a part of the experience as well.

“I know these are little things, but they just add to the storyline and make the trip a little more special,” said Sinclair. “It was an awesome experience.”

And though the drive to get there was long, the memories will last longer.

“As dreaded as a 20-hour bus trip sounds, the memories they made with each other on these rides is something they’ll always remember,” he said.

The team left Tuesday morning (June 6), travelling to Sault Ste. Marie, and arriving in Cobourg on Wednesday. The team attended the OFSAA banquet that night before beginning tournament play the next morning.

The girls played four games through two days of competition, playing teams from Whitby, Sault Ste. Marie, Bradford, and Peterborough. They arrived home Sunday evening, June 11.

The girls booked their ticket to Cobourg after defeating the Dryden Eagles 3-1 in the NorWOSSA title game on May 31.

“Winning NorWOSSA was amazing,” said Sinclair. “Seeing them defend their championship and finally get the trip they worked so hard for two years to get was really rewarding.”

Though the Muskies won NorWOSSA last year as well, the team had opted out of OFSAA before the season began. Since the snow had stayed around so long, last year’s head coach Caitlin Wilson said she wanted the girls to have a longer season — the team had only practiced outside a few days before their first game.

Looking ahead to next season, Sinclair said he’s excited for what the group can accomplish. He said experiencing the level of competition at OFSAA will help the team moving forward.

“We know areas that we need to tighten up … to improve our success at that level,” he said. “We have a strong group of girls eligible to return who all seem eager to develop and improve for next season.”

Sinclair said there are six graduating players who will be missed and were all influential in the team’s success — Angel Bauman, Chloe Dolyny, Teagan Mosbeck, Raelle Redford, Tatum Ronmark, and Monika Ruppenstein.

“It will be up to younger girls to step up and fill these losses, but I am confident with the group we have,” he said. “They will be determined to defend our NorWOSSA championship and get another chance to prove themselves at OFSAA.”