Both Rainy River Owls' soccer squads know they'll be in tough in NorWOSSA 'A' action this season.
That was made pretty evident last Wednesday and Thursday by the visiting St. Thomas Aquinas Saints (Kenora) and Sioux Lookout Warriors.
The girls' squad opened with a 2-0 shutout loss to the Saints on Wednesday before battling them to a scoreless draw the next morning.
Then in the afternoon, the Owls nabbed their first regular-season win as Mika Kooistra's first-half goal stood up in a 1-0 decision in a tightly-contested match with the Warriors.
“I'm pretty impressed,” Owls' head coach Rebecca Tolen said about her squad's start to the season.
"We've never beat Fort before but we beat them [in exhibition play] on Monday [April 30], which was really surprising.
“I really thought this would be a rebuilding year," Tolen admitted. "But we're doing okay.”
“They've been working really hard.”
It was a back-and-forth—and spirited contest—against Sioux Lookout last Thursday.
The teams traded scoring chances, and even had a few players subbed off with injuries, before Kooistra received a pass through the middle and blasted a shot between the Warriors' keeper's legs for the only goal the Owls would need.
“Mika's going off to play at [college] next year so she's been working pretty hard,” Tolen noted.
"She's my midfield centre.
“But really, they've been passing the ball well and working together so that's why were winning,” she reasoned.
“We don't really have a lot of real 'star power,'" Tolen remarked. "But we have a lot of good players that are really sharing the ball and doing well.”
Sioux Lookout had a great chance to tie the game in the latter stages of the second half, but had their strike just ricochet off the crossbar and stay out of the net.
Tolen conceded her squad did have some lapses in judgement in the second half that will need to be rectified moving forward.
“At the end of the game there, we kept putting everything into the middle, so we're going to be working on running up the sidelines [with the ball] a little bit more,” she vowed.
“That was a little scary with two minutes left when we kept throwing it into the middle,” she chuckled.
It was a much different story for the Owls in boys' action last week.
The squad opened league play Wednesday with a 6-0 drubbing at the hands of the Saints before falling 5-0 to them the following morning.
It wasn't any better in that afternoon as the Warriors also cruised to a 5-0 shutout win.
Both Owls' squads next head to Sioux Lookout on May 16-17 to face the host Warriors and Red Lake Rams.