By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
Maybe it’s best to start with the highlight.
The McNary High School boys varsity soccer team blasted past the Sprague Olympians 4-0 in teams’ game Thursday, Oct. 21.
“We had a lot of communication. In general, people were trying hard,” said Hugo Gonzalez, a Celtic senior. “If the ball was in front of them, they we’re going hard and leaving it all on the field.”
The sentiment was echoed by teammate Reece Braatz.
“It was just a really good game for us,” Braatz said. “We made opportunities and finished on them.”
McNary’s four goals came from Gonzalez on an assist by Luis Garibay; Nevin McLain on an assist by Gonzalez; Garibay on an assist Erik Cid; and Cid on an assist by Jake Paulson. Goalkeeps Hugo Cortez and Christian DeSantiago recorded a save each.
“The team is getting better that’s no doubt,” said Miguel Camarena, Celtic head coach. “The concept of working as a team is so much better, we played compact, we are scoring goals, and just in time to fight for a playoff spot.”
A seat at third in the Central Valley Conference would guarantee the Celtics a playoff berth, but even without it, the Celts will have an opportunity to make the playoffs in a play-in game next week.
Prior to the Sprague match-up, the Celts dropped a game to the South Salem Saxons 3-1.
“It was almost the same performance we had when we met South the first time,” Camarena said. “We lost both games by a mistake in the back.”
Gonzalez scored in the 64th minute and the goalkeeps had a busy game with Cortez making fives and DeSantiago making three.
“There were still missed judgements, but at the end of the game we got the goal and began pressuring,” Braatz said.
If the team is going to turn the corner and avoid a make or break play-in game, they will need to leave past few weeks of competition in the rearview, Gonzalez said.
“We’re going to focus on the next games and getting better,” he said.
For the Lady Celts, the story of the past week bore an unfortunate resemblance to many of the prior ones.
McNary lost matches to South Salem, 4-0, and Sprague, 6-1.
“We kept South without a goal for 37 minutes which playing them is a pretty good performance defensively,” Camarena said.
Goalkeep Beca Aguilar had eight saves in the otherwise uneventful game on the Celtic side of the ball.
Against Sprague, goalkeep Savanna Vickers put down eight attempts on goal. Keri Bonn netted the Celtics only goal of the game on an assist by Danielle Lovejoy.
“We need to get so much better if we want to have a chance to make playoffs,” Camarena said. “We will continue working on finish and work on the formation we will playing.”