Lindsay Roy isn’t asking for much—just one more week of high school soccer.
The OAC student and co-captain of the Muskie girls’ soccer team is looking for her team to claim NWOSSAA gold this weekend in Manitouwadge to send them back to the all-Ontarios.
But it won’t be easy. Despite the fact St. Pat’s—the ThunderBay-based school that has ended the black-and-gold’s season the last three years—was bounced in their league playoffs, the Muskies (10-0) know they’ll have to battle through an improved Manitou-wadge team that went undefeated in NSSSAA play and St. Ignatius (6-0-2), the top-ranked team in the Lakehead, who beat Churchill in their league final last night.
They’ll battle in a three-team round-robin, with the team with the best record moving on to the all-Ontarios in Brockville on June 6-8.
“The only time [this group of players] has been to OFSAA was the one we hosted [in 2000]. It’ll be nice to go out of town for one, especially in our last year,” said Roy, one of five veteran starters along with fellow co-captain Christin Thomson, Noreen Hartlin, Marina Boileau, and Trista Barker.
Head coach Struchan Gilson said he’s counted on those five to provide leadership as the games get tougher. “They will be really strong for us,” he remarked. “They’re really looking to lead our team.”
Aside from their automatic berth in 2000 as host team, the Muskies haven’t won NWOSSAA outright since 1995.
“We’ve been getting closer every year. We really want to win this one,” said Gilson.
To do so, the girls are hoping to end the same pattern that has plagued them in recent years—steamrolling through NorWOSSA only to be stopped at the regional showdown.
It’s something the team, especially those who have suited up for three or four years, need to overcome, Roy stressed. “I think it’s all in our heads. We just have to focus,” she noted.
Gilson said defence continued to be the theme at practice this week.
Aside from their two blowout wins during pool play at the NorWOSSA finals two weeks ago, six of their last eight games were won by one or two goals, including a 1-0 win over Beaver Brae (Kenora) to secure their fifth-straight league title.
“They say offence wins games and defence wins championships. I subscribe to that,” Gilson said.
Roy agreed, adding St. Ignatius will give them the most problems this Saturday..
“They’re quite a bit different [from NorWOSSA opponents]. They control the ball, better foot skills. We have to challenge them every time,” she explained.
The girls leave town Friday morning and will open play against Manitouwadge on Saturday morning before wrapping things up against St. Ignatius.