Marcus McCoy, a freshman goalkeeper on the McNary High School lacrosse team, takes part in a drill during practices Thursday, March 19. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Marcus McCoy, a freshman goalkeeper on the McNary High School lacrosse team, takes part in a drill during practices Thursday, March 19. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

The first varsity game for the McNary High School lacrosse team was a barnburner Wednesday, March 18.

“With two minutes left in the game and a two-goal lead, we tried unsuccessfully to kill the clock. We had a couple turnovers and a penalty allowing Newberg High School to tie the game 8-8 with 35 seconds left. We managed to get three shots off in the final 35 seconds of regulation, but none of them made it into the net,” said Ryan Bowlby, McNary head coach.

After two overtimes, McNary won 9-8.

“Me and Beard (Jeremy Williams) double-teamed their last guy to get the ball back, then I got tunnel vision,” said senior Cade Christensen.

Christensen picked up the ground ball, ran the full length of the field behind the Newberg’s goal. He evaded a double team behind goal and managed to dive into a second double team four yards in front of goal.

“Cade took a one-handed, left-hand shot that flicked into the back on the net for the game-winning goal with 35 seconds left,” Bowlby said.

Lacrosse, which is run as a club sport for the Celtics, combines physicality of football with the finesse of soccer and the strategy of basketball.

While the game made for amplified excitement, Bowlby knew the team was capable of more.

“Statistically we dominated Newberg, we just did not score efficiently. We are very young at the midfield with three freshman, one sophomore and two seniors,” Bowlby said. “All four of the underclassmen overcome the lack of game experience by being great athletes.”

David Gonzalez led the team with three goals against Newberg, Christensen and Cameron Engle had two each, Mike Phelps and Tanner Hughes put in one each.

Last season, McNary took second in the league, but Williams, a senior, wants the team to go one better this year.

“I have the highest hopes for us. I want to win league, I want that set in stone as the goal, and my parting gift for the team,” Williams said.

If they manage a league title, this year’s team will be the first lacrosse team to hang a banner on the wall of the McNary gymnasium.

Williams has seen the program grow rapidly. As a freshman, there were players swinging between junior varsity and varsity on the same night because the squad lacked numbers. This year, McNary can fill the rosters for varsity and junior varsity teams.

“It’s been fun to get better as a team as a family. Every person on this team is a friend,” Williams said.

The team has grown as a direct result of current players enlisting friends and, in some cases, family. This year, Williams’ younger brother is on the team.

“We’ve got wrestlers and basketball players coming out. It’s the perfect sport for football linemen. We’re breeding success and that builds confidence in parents letting their kids come out for the team,” Bowlby said.

While all of the pieces are coming together, Christensen said the team will need to work to reach its goals by season’s end.

“We need to tighten our offense up a bit. Our defense did pretty well in the first game and it will keep getting better,” he said.