The tune-ups are done, let the regular season commence.
Both the Muskie boys’ and girls’ soccer teams, who had strong showings over the weekend at their final pre-season tournaments in Winnipeg, kicked off the regular season today by hosting the Kenora Broncos and Dryden Eagles (results weren’t known as of press time).
The boys’ squad was impressive in earning a berth in Sunday’s consolation final at the annual St. John’s Ravenscourt tourney.
“The boys had a successful weekend,” said Muskie head coach Chris Sinclair.
“Although we did not finish how we would have liked, we are very pleased with our performance throughout the weekend tournament.
“Each game, we played very good and highly-skilled teams,” he noted.
“It was great competition for us leading up to the start of our league play [today].”
Fort High opened play with a 2-1 shootout victory over the host St. John’s Ravenscourt, which took seven shooters to decide the winner.
Cole Kowalski earned the win in goal while Brett Allan had the lone marker during regulation time.
The Muskies then lost their second game by a narrow 2-1 margin to Dakota, which put them third in their pool.
Kowalski netted the lone goal in that one while Jacob Albright took the loss between the pipes.
Fort High then faced Miles Mac in the consolation semi-final, coming out on top 2-1 in extra time.
Allan and Riley Argue both found the back of the net while Kowalski earned the win in goal.
That earned the Muskies a berth into the consolation final on Sunday against the University of Winnipeg, where they were blanked 1-0.
Albright was solid in taking the loss while Kowalski was named the Muskies’ tournament MVP.
Sinclair felt as though his squad did many good things throughout the weekend and liked how they gutted out the games.
“It was a lot of soccer in a little span of time, and I thought we came together as a team as the weekend went on,” he remarked.
“Guys were tired towards the later part of our last game, which may have lead to their lone goal, but we played hard in each game.
“In fact, we were behind in each game and managed to stick with our game plan and battle back in each game,” Sinclair lauded.
“I think at the beginning it is a little intimidating as teams in Winnipeg get to play with each other all year and have indoor facilities available, where as we don’t have that,” he conceded.
“We moved the ball really well at times, and were able to generate a lot of good chances from playing fast-paced and high tempo.”
Sinclair believed focusing on defence in practice would help his squad have success today against the Broncos and Eagles.
“We got ourselves in trouble [on the weekend] by getting away from playing on the defensive side of the opposition, as well as lunging at the ball,” he noted.
“We need to understand that if they are unable to turn toward our net, or if we are between them and our goal with little space, we are in good position.
“We will have a couple days to tighten up some areas, then the league starts [today],” Sinclair said.
“The nice thing about going to the SJR tournament is that it is great competition and it is before our season begins,” he reasoned.
“This allows us to play against good teams and helps us get a better understanding of areas that we need to improve on moving forward.”
In girls’ action, the Muskies finished fourth at their exhibition tournament in Winnipeg.
They won their first game 4-3 in a shootout, needing six shooters to pull it out.
Fort High then lost its lost second game Friday afternoon, which put it into the third-place game Saturday morning.
The black-and-gold also fell in that one to end up placing fourth overall.
“They were able to see how well the Winnipeg teams play as far as positions, passing, and communication goes,” Muskie head coach Sara Roach said about her squad’s experience over the weekend.
“These are teams that play year-round in club teams during the winter months, and have likely been playing together as a team for a number of years,” she noted.
“Considering the Muskies’ team [has] been playing together for about three weeks now, and these were their first games of the season, I can say that they all played really well and I am so proud of them.”
Heading into today’s matches versus Kenora and Dryden, Roach had certain areas in mind that she said her squad could work on.
“Based on the tournament, there are a few things that I’d like to get ironed out before the season,” she remarked.
“All the girls agreed that we need to work on our communication, first touches, and getting first to the ball.
“If we can get these skills down, then I can see this team doing really well this season,” Roach added.
Both Muskie squads will be back in action next Wednesday (May 16) when they head to Dryden for more games against the host Eagles and Broncos.