They gave a valiant effort all season but it just wasn't to be in the end.
A 2-1 loss to the reigning NorWOSSA champion Dryden Eagles in last Wednesday's league final here put the wraps on the 2018 season for the Muskie girls' soccer team.
As one that struggled to score and relied on sound defence, head coach Sara Roach was thrilled with how her squad progressed and continually improved over the course of the season.
“I am so proud of every single player on the team," she enthused. ”They all played really well.
“Considering we have 20 players, nine of them [being] first-year players, and they placed second overall speaks volumes of itself.”
While pleased with how her players improved, Roach was hopeful the girls that are returning next season would work on their skills over the summer in order to be even better.
“I hope the girls play women's league and improve some of the finer details that we did not have time to work on in the four-week season,” she remarked.
“I know we will be a strong team next year and I am really looking forward to the season.”
The black-and-gold, who went 1-4-1 during the six-game regular season, fell just short of advancing to OFSAA after falling 2-1 to the Eagles last Wednesday afternoon.
After surrendering two goals in the early stages of the second half, Pasquel Shortreed later bulged the twine for Muskies.
It was just a little too late, however, leaving the Muskies just shy of their ultimate goal of advancing to the all-Ontarios that start tomorrow and run through Saturday in Windsor.
Roach praised the play of Shortreed, who battled some ailments but always was a reliable producer offensively.
“Pasquel had a really good season despite being injured for two of the regular-season games,” she lauded.
"She was such a contributing force on offence, her attitude was always positive, and she always played to the best of her ability.
“The energy of the team changed whenever she was on the field,” Roach added.
“I asked her to play in a few different positions and she never objected.”
Fort High had beaten the Kenora Broncos 1-0 in the semi-final Wednesday morning to advance to face the top-ranked Eagles.
Finding some space around a Broncos' defender, Janissa Judson cut in on goal and made a few dekes before firing a rocket top-shelf over the Kenora keeper.
That proved to be all the offence Muskie keeper Hallee Bassant would need, who shut the door on Kenora and was stellar in goal for both matches.
“I think the game against Kenora was one of their best games they played,” Roach said of her squad.
“It was amazing to see how far they've come over the season and how much they've improved.”
Roach said she liked how many opportunities the girls created to score against the Broncos, which is something they practised extensively heading into the playoffs.
“I think the biggest challenge was the heat,” she said about the loss to Dryden in the final.
“The girls battled against Kenora, winning 1-0, and then had to play a fresh team with only a couple hours of rest in between games,” she noted.