McNary senior Kolbie Kopp helped lead the Lady Celts to the playoffs for the first time since 2009. (Submitted/Andre Panse)

McNary senior Kolbie Kopp helped lead the Lady Celts to the playoffs for the first time since 2009. (Submitted/Andre Panse)

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

McNary’s first trip to the girls soccer state playoffs since 2009 ended in the first round as the Lady Celts lost to No. 3 Sherwood 7-0 on Saturday, Oct. 29.

MHS went into the game shorthanded, missing sophomore starters Natalie Gonzalez and Anita Lao, who were out with injuries. At Sherwood, the Lady Celts lost another sophomore player in the 15th minute as Katy Wyatt went down with a knee injury with the game tied 0-0.

“Our game plan was working very well but it was dependent on a couple of people and one of them (Wyatt) went out,” McNary head coach A.J. Nash said. “We lost that necessary defensive player.”

Sherwood went on to score three goals in the first 40 minutes.

“I think we were a little nervous going in but the sentiment of the girls at halftime was they weren’t nearly as scary as we thought they might be,” Nash said.

The Lady Bowmens, who entered the game 11-2-1 after winning the Three Rivers League, added four more goals in the second half.

“I’ll tip my hat to Sherwood,” Nash said. “We got to play one of the best teams in the state. We were playing a team that was overwhelmingly seniors that had been playing together since they were 10. Even though the scoreline seems a little bit lopsided, we kept up with them for the first 20 minutes and we battled hard to the very end. It was great experience. Next year when we get back to the dance, we’ll be more prepared.”

Part of that preparation includes scheduling tougher opponents.

Sherwood was the first team in the top 10 McNary played this season. Greater Valley conference champion West Albany was 13th. West Salem was 17th and both also lost in the first round of the playoffs.

During non-league action, the Lady Celts played only two teams that made the postseason the year before, Tigard and Gresham, and only Tigard were in the playoffs this season and also didn’t make it past the first round.

“We need to play more games like this preseason to be ready for that kind of test,” Nash said. “That was the first test of its kind that we’ve had as a program in recent history and the more opportunities that we get to play teams of that caliber, the better we’ll be prepared when it matters most.”

The best teams in the state get first pick of the toughest schedules so the more McNary improves, the better the Lady Celts schedule will be in the future.

“We ask to play the toughest teams in the state every year,” Nash said. “Every coach does. That’s just what you do. The problem is the toughest teams in the state are asking for that same schedule. We made the playoffs and finished with a winning record, 8-5-3, so we should be able to command a tougher schedule. The ship can’t turn course in a year. As a coach I’ve been struggling for an answer on how do you get those non-league games and the answer is you have to earn them.”