After breezing though the competition the last two seasons, only to suffer upsetting losses to Kenora in the NorWOSSA semi-finals each time, Muskie girls’ soccer coach Struchan Gilson decided some changes were in order.
While he would be the first to admit his team definitely was the better one, they simply didn’t win the game when it counted. Plain and simple.
But Gilson strongly feels this will be the season the Muskies win the “big one”—and shake the doldrums of two straight bitter playoff losses.
“The last two years have driven me nuts,” he said Monday morning. “In both cases, I thought we were the better team, better organized, but they just beat us.”
Those two losses persuaded Gilson to change his system this season.
The Muskies will now employ a “double centre” system, which will utilize three backs, four halfs, and three forwards. The idea, said Gilson, is to have an aggressive front end and a skilled ball handler in the middle of the field.
Part of that strength in the middle will bolstered by the presence of Hannah Carter, Caylee Brow, and Amy Wilson, who will be fielding the ball to wingers Carrie Selin and Susie Grynol.
From there, Gilson likes to set up his offence to the middle and is hoping for a breakout offensive season from striker Laureen Cousineau.
In goal, the Muskies have yet to name a number-one keeper among the three players competing for that position—Edith McCormick (a former fullback with the Muskies), Angie Shute, and rookie Amy Shute.
But the biggest change from last season probably will be the transition to a two-line system, which will send out a pair of well-balanced units throughout the game. The system is much like the one Gilson uses to great success with the junior girls’ volleyball team.
Gilson said he has no apprehension making the change due to his team’s strength in depth, alluding to the fact this is the exact system Kenora used against them in those two playoff upsets.
“We have just tremendous depth this year,” enthused Gilson, who has led Muskie teams to seven NorWOSSA titles in 12 seasons. “We have so much depth that it doesn’t matter which line [we have out there].”
Gilson said the idea of the two-line system is to play more of a “high tempo” game, which puts pressure on the other team.
“The idea is to keep everybody fresh and have our players go all out for 20 minutes [at a time],” he stressed.
The Muskies will open action on the first weekend in May although it hasn’t been determined yet if the tournament they participate in will be here or in Winnipeg.