Even though the Muskie girls’ soccer team has lost several players from a year ago, including many key members from last year’s NWOSSAA finalists, head coach Struchan Gilson feels this year’s edition will once again be strong.
And while the head coach feels this year’s team should be just as dominating and possibly even more so there is no question this year’s lineup will be much younger.
“We will pick up six Grade nines that we will put on our taxi squad and we will look at them for our future. That’s why we carry so many players,” said Gilson of the team’s different look. “We have all these grade nines out there now and they look really, really, good. I think it will work out well, we’re younger, but I think we’re stronger.”
That’s a big statement considering the Muskies dominated NorWOSSA all season and were well on their way to an all-Ontario appearance until a second-half debacle in their final game against Thunder Bay which cost them an OFSAA berth.
Still, the team hopes to benefit from the mistakes they made in that season-ending game here on their home field and Gilson said the changes they have made on defence should make his club a more well-rounded unit. In fact, with the new defensive system, Gilson is looking at this year’s team to be just as strong as last season.
“I’m really excited with what we have done and the changes we made to our defensive system,” said Gilson. “It’s now more of a man-to-man system where everyone has a defensive assignment, which is priority No. 1, and their job has been clearly defined to them.”
Gilson said they will try to play more of a high-pressure, up-tempo game that tries to be quick to the ball and forces their wingers to come back hard in the defensive zone when they don’t have control of the ball.
But they’ll have to do it without several key members of last year’s club—Carrie Selin, Amy Wilson and Caylee Brow—to name just a few won’t be back this season. Those players will be replaced by the talents of Sarah McTavish, Finnish native Tea Vahanaki, and Sarah Noonan, who should play key roles with this year’s team.
Still, there’s no question as to the strength of the Muskies and that lies solely with the scoring talent of forward Laureen Cousineau, far and away the league’s most pure goal scorer and one of the top players in Northwestern Ontario.
She has the ability to break a game wide open with her ability to score from in close and will once again be counted on to produce most of the Muskies’ offence.