McNary sophomore Natalie Gonzalez scored the Lady Celts only goal in a 1-1 tie against McMinnville on Thursday, Oct. 6. (KEIZERTIMES/Derek Wiley)

McNary sophomore Natalie Gonzalez scored the Lady Celts only goal in a 1-1 tie against McMinnville on Thursday, Oct. 6. (KEIZERTIMES/Derek Wiley)

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

For the first time in years, the McNary girls soccer team has a shot at the playoffs entering the final week of the regular season.

The Lady Celts shut out McKay 5-0 on Monday, Oct. 10 to improve to 6-4-2 overall and 1-3-2 in the  Greater Valley Conference.

With two games to go, McNary is currently 38th in the OSAA rankings and need to move up to 36th to at least get a play-in game, which would be a first since 2009.

The Lady Celts go to North Salem on Tuesday, Oct. 18 and then host South Salem on Thursday, Oct. 20 to finish the season.

McNary head coach AJ Nash believes the girls need a win at North and at least at tie against South in order to get into the playoffs.

“There’s no guarantee but I feel good going into the final game,” Nash said. “I do believe it’s (playoff spot) in our hands, even though I can’t confirm that. We just need to get results in the last two games and we should have playoffs in our destiny.”

South Salem is ranked 30th with two games left to play so the Saxons should also have plenty at stake when they go to McNary.

“It should make for a great game,” Nash said. “I’d say we’re fairly evenly matched so it should be a battle. They are probably going to have similar implications. We might both be fighting for who gets the one playoff spot. They are one of the teams that we’re hoping to leapfrog.”

Senior Kayla Evans made sure the Lady Celts got off to a good start against McKay, which was another must-win game.

Evans scored McNary’s quickest goal of the season, in the first minute and 12 seconds on an assist from fellow senior Abi Rodriguez.

“We challenged the girls to go out and get a good score early and they did that,” Nash said.

Freshman Ariana Santana-Albright then scored her first varsity goal to extend the Lady Celts lead to 2-0 in the 23rd minute. Senior Isabella Heath, who had the assist, scored the next two goals, both in the second half on assists from sophomore Natalie Gonzalez.

The final goal came on a penalty kick by sophomore Gina Munguia.

Senior Scarlett Working got the shutout at goalkeeper.

Playing at home, McNary tied McMinnville 1-1 on Thursday, Oct. 6.

The Grizzlies took advantage of a lost ball in the midfield and scored on a counter attack in the 19th minute.

The equalizer came in the 58th minute as junior Jessy Shore took a long throw from the sideline, flicked on by Munguia, and collected and finished in the box by Gonzalez.

In the 65th minute, sophomore Katy Wyatt put a header on goal off a Munguia corner kick that hit the cross bar, and bounced back towards three charging Celts. But the McMinnville keeper found a fortunate bounce and was able to collect the ball.

McMinnville threatened a couple times on counter attacks, forcing sophomore goalie Sydney Snapp to make a couple strong saves, and with 10 minutes to go Munguia defended a ball with a header on her own goal line to keep the game tied.