Owls’ soccer squads earn split

Jamie Mountain

It’s been a good start to the season for the Rainy River Owls’ girls’ and boys’ soccer teams and they’ll be looking to keep that momentum going heading into today’s and tomorrow’s NorWOSSA ‘A’ games in Red Lake.
After starting the season with a pair of home wins over the Sioux Lookout Warriors, the girls’ squad travelled to Sioux Lookout last week and suffered their first setback of the season to the St. Thomas Aquinas of Kenora on Wednesday afternoon by a 2-1 count.
Lilly Blakeny tallied the Owls’ (3-1) lone goal in that one.
“The girls did well except for about five minutes against T.A., which is when they scored both of their goals,” Owls’ coach Rebecca Tolen recalled.
“T.A. was able send two balls through my defence and they capitalized on them.”
But seemingly undeterred by their first loss, Rainy River rebounded in a big way on Thursday afternoon with a 6-0 romp over the host Warriors.
Lynelle Westover and Paige Stamler both netted two goals apiece while Erika Gerula and Lara Wood also found the back of the net in the lopsided win.
“We really have a great team this year that works well together,” Tolen lauded. “They are good about attacking every free ball.”
A tough challenge now awaits the squad today and tomorrow as they are slated to square off against the Saints again for back-to-back games to end the regular season.
Tolen noted that her squad would be working on shutting down the through-ball in order to prepare themselves for the Saints’ challenge.
“[We] may make some changes in order to match T.A.’s speed,” she revealed.
“Meeting T.A. back-to-back will be challenging but while winning is the ultimate goal–we don’t have to do that until playoffs,” she reasoned.
“Prior to that, I will be setting small goals for each game in order to peak when it counts.”
As for the Owls’ boys’ squad, they also suffered a narrow setback to the Saints last Wednesday afternoon in Sioux Lookout to suffer their first loss of the season (2-1-1).
The Saints were stingy and eked out a 1-0 shutout victory.
But much like their female counterparts, the Owls didn’t let a narrow loss get them down and rebounded the following afternoon with a 2-1 win over the host Warriors for their second victory of the season.
Nick Vogan netted both markers for the Owls in that one.
“Good pressure on the other team, communicating, and passing,” is what Owls’ coach Martin Williams cited as what he thought his squad did well in the games against the Saints and Warriors last week.
“The team is working well as a unit, [showing] lots of spirit, and settling into their positions.”
The Owls were slated to face the Saints this afternoon, with the outcome not known as of press time, before taking on the host Rams tomorrow afternoon.
Williams noted that the Owls need to be better at defending corner kicks and that they would be working on perfecting their own corner kicks and set plays.
The NorWOSSA boys’ and girls’ semi-finals are set for May 23 in Kenora, with the finals to go the following day.
The regular-season champion on the girls’ side will have a bye to the final while the second and third-place teams will square off in the semis.