By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

If head coach Miguel Camarena wanted to test the mettle of the McNary High School boys varsity soccer team, he certainly got it in the season opener against Jesuit High School Thursday, Sept. 9.

The Celts lost 5-0 and spent much of the game on the defensive.

“They were better than us in this game. They controlled the tempo and the ball, but we wanted give some experience to some of our players and it showed us where to change our formations,” Camarena said.

The lesson wasn’t lost on Christian DeSantiago who took over as goalkeep in the second half of the game against Jesuit.

“It was a good taste of [varsity play] real quick and a chance to see what we have to do to get in the right shape on the field,” DeSantiago said.

When asked what went right for the team, Celt Hugo Cortez offered a bleak postmortem: “Not much really, we messed up a lot. But we talked about and we’ve been able to work out some of the technical stuff and defensive footwork.”

The Celts’ act showed more polish in a match against Crescent Valley High School Monday, Sept. 13. The teams tied 1-1, but the real challenge for the Celts came in the second half after losing a player to a red card for the last 38 minutes of the game.

“The group kept the lines together and we even we had our chances to win the game [with 10 men on],” Camarena said.

Hugo Gonzalez put the ball in the net for the Celtics off an assist by Luis Garibay.

“We need to switch the ball around the field and tire the other team out the same way Crescent Valley was doing to us near the end of the game,” said Reece Braatz.

The team was primarily kept out of the goal by a single Raider defender, said DeSantiago.

“We need to be taking more shots and pass the ball. I also want us to work toward wanting to win rather than thinking we have a good chance at winning,” he added.

Braatz saw the problem as a lack of aggressive play.

“We need to be going to 50/50 balls wanting to to win them,” he said.

Given the inexperience of some team members, Camarena is taking a wait-and-see approach before making drastic changes.

“Our players need to to concentrate all 80 minutes of the game, keep our formation, have  tactical discipline when we attack and when we defend, and create our own chances to put the ball in the net,” Camarena said.

The Celts kick off conference play Tuesday, Sept. 21, hosting Sprague High School. Game time is 4:30 p.m.