The Muskies boys’ soccer team began its season at the St. John’s Ravenscourt invitational tournament in Winnipeg over the weekend.
Head coach Shane Beckett generally was pleased with his team’s performance despite the fact the black-and-gold managed only one win in four games.
“Overall we played pretty well. There were no real blow-outs,” Beckett said.
“We got everyone on the pitch for at least five minutes every game,” he added. “We were working out a couple of injuries, too, and didn’t have some starters out there.
“All and all, it was pretty good.”
The Muskies faced some stiff competition. Of the four teams Fort High faced in round-robin play, two finished in the top five of the tournament while a third is ranked as the top indoor team in Winnipeg.
The high level of competition allowed the Muskie coaching staff an opportunity to not only get their first look at the team under game conditions, but to see how they’d respond to adversity.
Beckett was particularly impressed with the way his players listened to direction from the sidelines.
“The minute we talked about something during the interval, they would head back out and actually apply it,” he noted. “That’s a real positive thing. We know that it’s getting through to them and it’s all starting to make sense.”
Beckett and assistant coach Jodi Easton have decided to implement a new system this season in order to maximize the team’s abundance of talent in the midfield.
The Muskies will employ a 4-5-1 formation (four defenders, five midfielders, and a single forward) as opposed to their traditional 4-4-2 involving four defenders, four midfielders, a forward, and a sweeper.
“It takes some getting used to,” Beckett said of the new system. “They [the team] need live game action to work that five-player midfield and see how it goes.”
In implementing the new system, the Muskie coaches have tried a number of players in a variety of positions in order to find a winning combination on the field.
Beckett said the Ravenscourt tournament was extremely helpful in determining individual roles on this year’s team.
“We got our starting 11 figured out,” he remarked. “I think we have sort of figured out where these new guys that are part of the program are going to slot in now, as well.”
One position at which no decision needed to be made was keeper. Thomas Edwards will start the NorWOSSA season between the pipes after Jordan York injured his knee over the weekend.
Developmental goalie Mike Brady will serve as the back-up to Edwards until York has healed.
The Muskies kicked off the Ravenscourt tournament with a 2-0 loss to Louis Riel. Former Rainy River High School student Shane Ikert then scored for Fort High in their 2-1 loss to Shaftsbury.
Team captain Tyson Quibell scored the lone goal of the match as the Muskies edged Vincent Massey 1-0 in their third game of the round-robin.
They fell 3-0 to Glenlawn Collegiate in their final game.
Ikert was named the Muskies’ MVP of the tournament.
Fort High’s next game action comes this Friday and Saturday when they host six teams from across the region in a tournament.