Celt Nevin McLain (center) traps the ball during practice last week at McNary High School. (Keizertimes/ERIC A. HOWALD0

Of the Keizertimes

Things will be different for the McNary High School boys varsity soccer team this season, but that doesn’t necessarily mean worse, according to several of the players.

“We have some new faces, but they’ll do what they do. They’ll fill the spots just fine,” said senior Nevin McLain.

McNary could still be the team to beat in the Central Valley Conference, said senior Jake Paulson.

“We lost some players, but we’ve still got depth,” Paulson said.

The Celtics lost four powerhouses, with 12 years of varsity experience between them, to graduation in June.

“We still have a pretty good team, but we’ll have to play different,” said Luis Garibay, a senior. “We could play more calmly last year. This year we’ll have to step it up and move the ball around more.”

Miguel Camarena, Celtic head coach, knows that the team will have to work hard to achieve their goals this season, but he was eagerly anticipating McNary’s preseason match-ups.

“It’s going to help us to have good teams to play in the preseason like Jesuit, CV, and Woodburn,” Camarena said.

While a number of players bring varsity experience to the table, Celtics strengths in 2010 are likely to be speed and versatility.

“They’re all eager to learn and they’re getting better every day,” he said.

Returning sophomore Mychael Thomas moved from defense to forward this season and he’d already set his sights on leading the team to more goals.

“I want to see more bonding and working together,” Thomas said. “I want us to get to the playoffs and go far.”

McNary lost a quarterfinal match to Jesuit 7-1 last season, but it was the second consecutive quarterfinal appearance for the Celts.

The team will need to step up coverage of the midfield and talk more if they want to match or improve on the team’s 2009 showing, Paulson said.

“We’re also going to need to play quicker,” he added.

West Salem High School is the school most of the Celtic players are gunning for in 2010. Thomas said the team is home to many friends who he anticipates meeting on the pitch, while Paulson is impressed by the team’s overall talent.

“They’ve got a lot of young, really quality players,” Paulson said.

McNary will face the Titans for the first time Oct. 6. They kicked off their season Thursday past press time with a home field rematch against Jesuit. The Celts travel to Albany for a match with Crescent Valley on Tuesday, Sept. 13. Game time is 4:30 p.m.