By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
The McNary High School varsity lacrosse team is 2-0 in the North Valley Conference while battling through thick and thin in its first league games.
The Celtics traded leads with the South Salem High School Saxons six times before putting the match away with an 11-9 final score on April 8. It was the first time in the five-year program the Celtics beat the Saxons at the varsity level.
“We won the ground ball battle 42-48, the six ground balls were the difference in the game. Each ground ball, which is similar to a rebound in basketball, gave us another possession and chance to get a shot on goal,” said Ryan Bowlby, McNary head coach.
McNary put up a stalwart defensive stand in the fourth quarter of the game to hold the Saxons scoreless.
Goalie Austin Fisher had three of his five saves in the fourth quarter. The Celtics took a one-point lead with two minutes left in the third quarter, and then slowed the pace of the game due to a number of injuries.
“The student athletes showed great time management skills, eating up minutes off the clock on each possession,” Bowlby said.
For the Celtics, Joseph Giblin had two goals and an assist; Preston McNeely had three goals; Isaiah Vian and David Gonzalez had two goals and two assists; Nick Moore and Hunter Rosenblatt had one goal each.
Two days later, McNary hosted West Albany High School and dealt the team a 17-1 drubbing.
“We scored in the first two minutes of the game and never looked back,” Bowlby said. “Our defense was smothering most of the game, only allowing four shots on goal.”
The Keizer team played a flawless game that saw nine players on the 25-member roster score.
McNeely had three goals and an assist; Moore had three goals; Jake Burrus had two goals and two assists; Giblin and Vian had two goals each; Cameron Engle had one goal and one assist; Rosenblatt, Gonzalez and Mike Phelps had one goal apiece.
The Celts play West Salem High School on the road Friday, April 18, and host Corvallis High School at North Salem High School, 765 14th St NE, in Salem Tuesday, April 22. Game times are 8:15 and 8:30 p.m., respectively.