Since winning their first three games of tournament play to start the soccer season, the Muskie boys’ team has dropped four of its last five games and now head into this weekend’s NorWOSSA playoffs with plenty of questions.
“We had trouble offensively [last week in Kenora],” admitted assistant coach Jason Kabel. “Teams were double- or triple-teaming Daniel [Ribeiro] and we had a lot of guys playing up front without any tenacity.”
Assistant coach Ben Andrusco agreed the Muskies fell victim to other teams “keying” on Ribeiro, the team’s top scorer.
“There were a few times in games where we had the pressure on the other team but we just couldn’t capitalize on our chances and then the other team would come down a put a big rush on our fullbacks,” added Andrusco.
The Muskies had their share of chances to score, said Kabel, controlling the ball for long stretches during games only to come away empty on the scoreboard.
They’ll definitely have to convert those chances this weekend if they wish to advance to NWOSSAA.
“We had our chances. We’d hit a goalpost, or we’d take a shot right at the keeper,” said Muskie head coach Keith Gilbert. “We didn’t get lots of opportunities, but in the Thomas Aquinas game, we dominated but we just couldn’t finish.”
The black-and-gold opened the seven-team tournament last Wednesday by dropping a 3-0 loss to Dryden and then a 2-1 decision to Thomas Aquinas (Kenora).
Jeff Savage scored the lone Muskie goal in that game.
The Muskies bounced back with a 6-0 blowout against Sioux Lookout in their first game Thursday but then fell 2-0 to Beaver Brae (Kenora) to wrap things up.
Ribeiro (two), David Bond, Adam McTavish, and Trevor Hyatt scored first-half goals to stake the Muskies out to a 5-0. The sixth Muskie scorer wasn’t available.
The black-and-gold head into the NorWOSSA playoffs as the fourth seed, which puts them in Pool ‘A’ with top-ranked Dryden and Sioux Lookout.
Pool ‘B’ will feature Beaver Brae (the second seed), Thomas Aquinas, Red Lake, and Rainy River.
Because of the odd number of teams, games in Pool ‘B’ will be 60 minutes in duration while those in Pool ‘A’ will run 80 minutes.
Kabel felt playing on home turf should help the Muskies, who won’t have to make the long bus trip here like many of their NorWOSSA counterparts.
“I think it would help us to play at home but I’m not sure how much it will matter,” he said. “It will still come down to the team that plays the better soccer.”
But Gilbert didn’t feel the home-field advantage would help his club that much, expect in a situation where the first goal of a game could get the crowd more involved in the game.
Still, he said with most of the teams so evenly matched, it remains to be seen who will play the best soccer on the weekend.
Dryden looks to be the team to beat this year—boasting several forwards blessed with enough speed to create havoc with the Muskie defenders.
Kabel hinted they may very well make a change on defence to compensate for the exceptional speed of the Eagle forwards, who beat the Muskies to the ball once again last week.
Dryden edged the Muskies 1-0—while controlling most of the play—in their first meeting here less than two weeks ago.