Muskie boys roll in sweep
If the Muskie boys’ soccer team was a horse, it would be known as one mean mudder.
The black-and-gold left their opponents floundering in the rain at the Struchan Gilson Memorial soccer fields Monday as they opened defence of their three-straight NorWOSSA crowns with a pair of 3-0 wins over the visiting Kenora Broncos and Dryden Eagles.
“Notoriously we don’t play well in poor conditions and yesterday we changed that,” extremely pleased Muskie head coach Shane Beckett said.
“We played fast and loud, which was the theme of practice since the Rainy River game, and it paid off,” he added.
The two wins looked identical in terms of the visitors putting up an early fight before seemingly wearing down as the games wore on.
Against Kenora, Connor Bujold opened the scoring in the 37th minute to put Fort High up 1-0.
Then in the 60th minute, a Kenora defender drove through an oncoming Muskie from behind within the Broncos’ 18-yard box.
That meant a penalty kick, with Max Williams labelling a shot to the lower left side of the net past lunging Kenora keeper Zach Martin, who guessed correctly but still couldn’t reach the shot in time.
“Max is our penalty kick guy,” noted Beckett.
“He is so calm and confident on the ball. He’s the right man for the job.”
Isaac Firth then sealed the victory in the 70th minute with a 30-yard rainbow that he swore was meant to be a crossing pass, but instead sailed perfectly over Martin’s head and into the net.
The Broncos held a terse post-game team meeting, with veterans chastising the squad’s perceived lack of effort.
The talk apparently had little effect, though, as the Broncos (0-2) subsequently were blanked 3-0 by the Eagles.
But any momentum the Eagles (1-1) got from that triumph was washed away against an offensive flood unleashed by the Muskies (2-0), who scored their three goals in a span of nine minutes bridging the end of the first half and the start of the second.
After several near misses, Williams stepped in the path of a goal kick from Dryden keeper Brady Desserre in the 37th minute and intercepted it just inside the 18-yard box.
Williams took a couple of strides, then ripped a shot to the far side of the net that Desserre was helpless to stop.
“[Assistant coach Olaf Ruppenstein] suggested we make the move of taking Max out of midfield and put him into the striker’s role,” noted Beckett.
“His offensive pressure and play-making ability is outstanding.”
The Eagles looked shell-shocked to start the second half and the Muskies capitalized.
Tyler Ruppenstein converted a pinpoint cross behind Desserre in the 43rd minute for a 2-0 lead.
Then a hand ball called against the Eagles inside their own 18-yard box in the 46th minute paved the way for Williams to whistle another penalty kick to the lower left side past Desserre.
It was Williams’ second goal of the game and third of the day.
Cole Tymkin, meanwhile, was rock solid between the pipes—posting shutouts in both games.
This past weekend, the Muskies visited Thunder Bay for their only pre-season action of the year after two tournaments were cancelled due to bad weather.
The black-and-gold smoked the Thunder Bay Chill U16 team 5-0 on Saturday before falling 1-0 to the St. Patrick’s Saints on Sunday.
“The weekend was great,” Beckett said. “We played some good soccer and everyone had an opportunity on the field in both games, which is a bonus.
“And some real team-bonding took place, which is always needed to push for a championship,” he added.
Matt Berube led the Muskies against the Chill with a pair of goals while Ian Jodoin, Williams, and Joey Angus added singles.
Fort High was scheduled to be in Kenora today for two more NorWOSSA games against the Broncos and Eagles.
But due to inclement weather, the action was postponed until May 23.
NorWOSSA now is slated to resume next Wednesday (May 21) in Dryden.