By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

Thanks to a 0-0 tie against No. 7 South Salem on Thursday, Oct. 19, McNary’s girls soccer team won’t have to play itself into the state tournament this season.

No. 21 in the final power rankings, the Lady Celts earned an automatic bid and a matchup with No. 12 Lincoln on Saturday, Oct. 28 at 4 p.m. in Portland.

“I’m excited. It’s a good feeling to go straight in,” McNary head coach A.J. Nash said. “It’s going to be physical. Ultimately, I don’t know a whole lot about Lincoln. They were fourth place in the interscholastic league.We’re just going to go in, play our game, and see where it takes us.”

The Lady Celts have already proven they can play with the best teams in the state. Along with its tie against South Salem, McNary also tied No. 6 West Salem 1-1 on Sept. 19.

“Getting results against South and West Salem show that when we’re playing well we can compete with anybody in the state,” Nash said. “We try to avoid the top four (Jesuit, Sunset, South Eugene and Cleveland). Eight to 22, there’s not a lot of separation. We’re going to be in it. We’re going to be competitive. We’re definitely going to have the opportunity to come away with the victory.”

The Lady Celts’ best chances to score at South Salem came in the first half as McNary had three corner kicks, two of which were saved off the goal line with the keeper beat.

McNary goalkeeper Sydney Snapp had 11 saves, including seven in the second half.

“It was intense, really fun to play,” Snapp said. “This was definitely one of our tougher battles but our defense was awesome and were a huge help in that game and did a lot for us. It’s kind of fun to have action. I think we can handle whatever comes at us.”

The Lady Celts are the only team in the GVC to hold South Salem scoreless.

“We’ve been very proud of Sydney’s performance this year,” Nash said. “She’s greatly improved. Our defense is stingy.”

While McNary’s eight wins are the most in the programs history, the Lady Celts know the playoffs are a new season.

“We know we can’t count on that and we have to play our best,” junior Gina Munguia said.