Even though the Muskie boys’ soccer team fell 1-0 to Dryden in their final game of a tournament here last weekend to finish in second spot, the coaches came away satisfied their team has a good shot at winning the NorWOSSA title this year.
The Muskies opened with a convincing 8-0 win over Rainy River last Friday morning and then continued their fine defensive play with a 2-0 shutout against Beaver Brae (Kenora) and a 5-1 win over Red Lake.
They only gave up one goal against the Eagles on Saturday afternoon but that was enough to hand them their lone loss.
The Muskies also looked good on offence, exploding for six goals in the first half against Rainy River, including three by rookie Daniel Ribeiro, a native of Brazil who is attending Fort High as an exchange student.
Matt Morgan scored twice while Terry LaBelle netted the another.
Jeff Savage and Josiah Morris rounded out the scoring in the second half while Jordan Roy, who played in all four games of the weekend tournament, earned the shutout.
Ribeiro scored both goals in the Muskies’ shutout win over Beaver Brae and then added two more against Red Lake to finish the tournament with seven.
He leads the team with 12 goals in nine games.
Josiah Morris, on a beautiful kick from 25 yards out, also scored in the Red Lake game, as did LaBelle and Trevor Hyatt.
The Muskie coaches were satisfied with the team’s 3-1 record.
“We did what we wanted to do in all three [wins],” assistant coach Jason Kabel noted. “We [consistently] beat the other teams to the ball.”
“Our defence played great, except for a lapse in the last game against Dryden,” echoed assistant coach Ben Andrusco, who admitted many of their players simply got tired playing four games in just two days—particularly defensive stalwarts Colin Wielinga and Andy Hallikas.
Muskie head coach Keith Gilbert was impressed with the team’s defensive play all weekend, limiting the opposition to minimal scoring chances, and hoped that trend continues when they play another four-game exhibition tournament starting today in Kenora.
“Our defensive backs and our halfbacks have really played quite well and we’ve just given up limited shots,” he noted.
On offence, the black-and-gold boast some talent with the likes of Ribeiro, Morris, and Hyatt.
“[Ribeiro] always gets good chances and has enough talent to be a serious threat when he has a good opportunity inside the 18-yard box,” enthused Kabel.
While Kabel stressed the coaches have not instructed the rest of the team to “get the ball” to Ribeiro, he admitted they may try to feed the talented striker as much as possible.
But other NorWOSSA teams are beginning to take notice of Ribeiro’s offensive skills, especially Dryden, which routinely put two defenders on him as soon as he touched the ball and kept him off the score sheet.
Andrusco hinted it might be in the team’s best interest if they used that double coverage to their advantage by putting the ball through to a pair of streaking wingers down the side.
That would create more chances, agreed Gilbert, adding that’s a “split-second” decision Ribeiro will have to make when he is handling the ball
Still, Gilbert said he’s been pleased with the team’s offence so far, particularly its ability to capitalize on set plays.
“The key has been that we’ve been able to score goals on in-direct and direct kicks and corner kicks,” he enthused. “When you get the ball near the other team’s goal, you have to capitalize.”
The Muskies played Dryden and Thomas Aquinas this afternoon in Kenora (no scores were available as of press time), then will face Sioux Lookout and Beaver Brae tomorrow.