The black-and-gold are feeling a little more black-and-blue these days.
A fresh batch of injuries put the Muskie girls' soccer team behind the eight-ball last week in the NorWOSSA regular-season ending games in Kenora—and the rainy weather didn't help matters much.
Muskie head coach Sara Roach suffered an injury prior to the squad's trip last week, meaning first-year assistant coach Sydney Radigan took the reins and saw her squad suffer a 3-1 loss to the host Broncos before capping the regular season with a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of the Dryden Eagles.
“To be completely honest, the final two games of the regular season against the Broncos and Eagles were nail-biters,” Radigan noted last week.
“Unfortunately, there were unforeseen misfortunes that frustrated the team before travelling to Kenora. This included an injured head coach who was unable to attend, injuries amongst the players, unsuitable weather conditions, and the fact that I was not able to play many of our players throughout both games,” she revealed.
“During the games, we weren't making good passes, our first touches were off, and there weren't many shots on net.”
Despite a rough day, the Muskies (2-2-2) still clinched a first-place bye to today's NorWOSSA final in Dryden as the Eagles and Broncos battled to a 1-1 draw against each other in the regular-season finale.
The Eagles and Broncos finished second and third with 1-1-4 records and seven points in the standings—one back of the Muskies.
Thus second-place Dryden and third-place Kenora will face each other in the NorWOSSA semi-final for the right to advance to face the Muskies in the league final today in Dryden.
The winner will advance to all-Ontarios, slated for June 6-8 in Belle River.
Fort High hasn't qualified for OFSAA since 2016 and Radigan noted that her squad is excited at the prospects of potentially qualifying for it this time around.
“The team is more than excited for the chance to go to OFSAA this year. This is a goal that hasn't been reached since I played my last year in high school [in] 2016, so this is a really big opportunity for these girls,” she noted.
"They are confident in their abilities and are self-assured that we are the better team in the league this year.
“Although this week was tough, we know that our situation was unfavourable and the girls are only going to come out stronger for the final,” she reasoned.
“We are excited to have the lead and looking forward to the game next week.”
The Muskis battled hard but ultimately came up short in their match last Wednesday morning against the host Broncos.
Pasquel Shortreed tallied the squad's lone goal of the day in a 3-1 setback.
Jersey Masson started for the Muskies in goal before being replaced by Jamie Spencer in the second half.
Fort High then capped the regular season with a 5-0 loss to the Eagles.
Spencer was charged with the loss in allowing all five of Dryden's goals.
“Despite the slippery conditions, both played their positions well,” Radigan lauded of her goalkeepers.
“Both anticipated that there would be a bounce due to the rain and they remained confident regardless of the losses that day.”
With a first-place bye to today's NorWOSSA final, Radigan feels as though only having to play one game will reap huge benefits for the Muskies.
“It is very rewarding to have the bye to the NorWOSSA final. It came as a surprise when we heard that we maintained our spot in first place, especially after the difficult day we had,” she remarked.
"This will make quite a difference as we will only have to play one game [on] Wednesday. It'll give the team a well-needed rest while our competitor will have to endure an entire other game before playing our team.
“Although we got lucky with the lead, the girls need to play just as hard as they did in previous league games,” she stressed.
“We can't let it get to our heads that just because we have the bye doesn't mean we'll win the final.”
Radigan also feels as though neither the Broncos nor the host Eagles pose a huge threat to them in their title hopes and that the Muskies' fate lies squarely in their own hands.
“The more motivated our girls are, the more likely we'll come out with a win,” Radigan stressed.