Hugo Gonzales tackles a West Salem players during the teams’ match-up Tuesday, Oct. 5. (Keizertimes/ERIC A. HOWALD)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

It came down to the final minutes, but the McNary High School boys varsity soccer team battled the West Salem Titans to a draw.

Hugo Gonzalez scored the Celtics only goal of the game on a penalty kick in the 75th minute. The Titans responded with one of their own in the 78th minute and knotted the game at 1-1.

“We did a pretty good job versus West, we pressured them and we controlled the tempo,” said Miguel Camarena, head coach. “We need to compete the whole 80 minutes to have a shutout and guarantee wins.”

In all, the Celts had eight shots on goal to the Titans’ five.

“We were passing the ball pretty well, we had some good shots, but they had a pretty good goalie and he kept blocking them,” said Oscar Ramirez, a McNary defender.

Gonzalez said the team is ready to turn the page on the first half of the season and a conference record of 1-2-1. He’s also tired of hearing the talk about the Celtic struggles.

“We’ve got a good team. In the second half of the season, we’re going to come out harder and and show people that by putting the ball in the net,” Gonzalez said.

Success might lay just around the corner if the team continues to compete like it did with the Titans, said sweeper Reece Braatz.

“We did pretty well all over the field, we just had a breakdown in the defense in the last little bit of the game,” Braatz said. “We’ve also got to remember to communicate instead of yelling at someone when they mess up. If we keep up the energy, we’re going to get the wins.”

Little by little, the team is improving, said Camarena. and there isn’t much standing in the way of a playoff berth.

“Defensively we are getting better, the midfield is creating now more opportunities for our forwards, and at front we still need to finish our opportunities, but we are going in the right direction,” he said.

Asked whether the team is capable of making it to playoffs, Ramirez’s answer reflected much of the team’s experiences thus far.

“I think … I know we can do it, if we just try,” he said.

The boys host South Salem High School at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19. They travel to meet Sprague High School at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21.