Muskie soccer starts exhibition slate

Lucas Punkari

With the opening games of the NorWOSSA regular season just two weeks away, the Muskie boys’ and girls’ soccer teams are getting a chance to show what they have in a number of pre-season exhibition matches.
After hosting the Rainy River Owls yesterday afternoon, the boys will travel to Winnipeg this weekend for the annual St. John’s-Ravenscourt tournament, with the girls travelling to that same tournament the following weekend.
Their first league action is slated for May 9 here.
For boys’ head coach Shane Beckett, the fact the team has had a lot of time to practise outside this year thanks to favourable weather conditions has done a lot of good heading into this weekend’s trip to Winnipeg.
“We normally don’t have this amount of time in the pre-season to start working on our systems,” he noted.
“Right now we’re planning to have our systems be very similar to what we had last year, and a lot of that will be based off of our personnel and seeing where they fit in here,” Beckett explained.
“We’re also experimenting with something right now that we haven’t tried before, and with the time that we have right now, we can see if that will work for us at all or not.”
This year’s squad features 28 players on the roster, with seven of the those being Grade 9s who will be used as a reserve squad.
“Our concern with those seven players was that we didn’t [want] to lose the opportunity to coach them this year and have the experience of being a part of this league,” Beckett said.
“To have a group of Grade 9s that we will be able to carry through for four years is going to be absolutely priceless, as right now we only have three guys [Gavin Moorhouse, Tim Metke, and Brandon Sinclair] that have gone through all four years.
“To have seven guys have that experience when they are in Grade 12 is going to be huge,” he enthused.
The Muskies’ first game in Winnipeg will be Friday at 6:30 p.m. against the Vincent Massey Trojans, with their second game in Group ‘D’ play slated for Saturday at 11 a.m. versus the River East Kodiaks.
The playoff round will begin later that day.
“Over the next few days, we are going to be looking at the new guys that we have here, and also working with our veteran guys in the tweaks that we’ve made in our defensive systems, along with trying to incorporate a more flowing game on offence,” Beckett said of his strategy leading up to the Winnipeg tournament.
“We’re going to be learning a lot here in the next few practices, and then it’ll be a quick turnaround when we start with our tournaments and our league games,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Muskie girls’ team still is in the process of getting its final roster set, with head coach Nicole Rogozinski joining the sideline last Monday.
“For a few of the players that I’m trying to decide on, I’ll be hoping that the game against Rainy River can be used as a deciding factor,” said Rogozinski, who along with co-coach Taylor Meyers is filling in for Sarah Faragher who is on maternity leave.
“Since I’ve come here, though, things have been going good so far and the girls are looking like they are in pretty good shape and they are ready for the season to begin,” she added.
Rogozinski, a former Muskie who helped coach with Faragher a season ago, is planning to keep things relatively similar in how the black-and-gold played last year as they prepare for their exhibition trip to Winnipeg next weekend.
“I haven’t made any decisions on who and where players will line up, but a 4-4-2 formation like we had last year here will be what we will most likely start off with,” she noted.
“Right now, I’m basically just looking to see who’s strong out there and who I went to keep in certain positions, with the things I’m looking for being their overall skill level, their fitness, their coachability, and their attitude out on the field,” she said.