By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
Fans will notice many of familiar faces when the Celtic girls varsity soccer team returns to the field Tuesday to host Sandy High School.
“We’ve got about 90 percent of the team from last year returning,” said Miguel Camarena, head coach of the McNary High School girls soccer program.
In practices earlier this week, the team was still figuring out the exact shape of the team that will take the field.
“We need to sharpen up our ability to position ourselves with the ball and then move with it,” said senior center Jordan Salinas.
After a tough season of difficult relationships within the team last year, Salinas is anticipating a smoother ride this season.
“It’s actually been really good. We’re all getting along and welcoming the new players. I know they’ve going to do great,” Salinas said.
In 2009, the Lady Celts finished in fourth place, just one point behind Sprague and West Salem high schools. They fell to Barlow High School in the opening round of the playoffs, but the team defeated West Salem, Sprague and Redmond on their home turf during the regular season. The OSAA dropped Redmond from the Central Valley Conference during redistricting this summer.
Sophomore Haley Scoggins was eagerly anticipating rematches with the Olympians and Titans and sizing up her new team.
“We lost some key players last year, but we’ve got some new ones up to the task of filling the spot,” Scoggins said. “It’s not the same team, but if we work hard we can, maybe, get [to the playoffs].”
Junior Casey Sidwell echoed her teammates excitement about the new team make-up, but the added that the team still has room for improvement.
“We need to mark up better on the field with more talking and less yelling,” Sidwell said.
In the remaining practices, the team will be focusing on penetration and finishing, Camarena said. He’s anxious to see how well the team performs and expects great things from senior goalkeeper Becca Aguilar.
“I think she could be the best keeper in the conference,” he said.
South Salem, a perennial powerhouse in girls soccer remains favored in the conference, but Camarena expects the remaining teams to be fairly well matched.
“It’s going to be competitive and good experience for our younger players who are moving up to varsity,” he said.
The girls varsity soccer team hosts Sandy High School Tuesday, Sept. 7. Game time is 4:30 p.m.