By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes
McNary boys soccer coach Miguel Camarena set a goal to be in the top 10 of the OSAA power rankings at the end of non-league play.
With a 1-0 win over Gresham on Monday, the Celtics accomplished that, rising to No. 4.
McNary’s next goal, a league championship, begins Tuesday, Sept. 25 when the Celtics host West Salem to open Mountain Valley Conference action.
“Every conference game is always a challenge because you know everyone,” Camarena said. “Our kids are ready. I’m excited.”
McNary finished the preseason 4-1-2 with the only loss coming at No. 1 and undefeated Lake Oswego.
Senior Jesus Lopez said the loss was a wakeup call.
“After our first loss, we started to pick it up a bit and we realized we can’t take another loss,” said Lopez, who scored McNary’s only goal against Gresham, heading a corner kick off a Gopher defender and into the net.
“As I was going up towards the ball I tripped on the other player,” Lopez said. “I tried to head it and it rebounded off the other player and went in.”
After scoring just one goal in each of its first three games, two ties and a loss, the Celtics scored 10 in its next four, all wins.
“We create so many opportunities and in the first two or three games we missed those goals and now we’re scoring in every game,” Camarena said.
With starting goalkeeper Sebastian Lopez dealing with a hamstring injury, Alejandro Villarreal came off the bench to allow just one goal in a 2-1 win over Madison on Sept. 13 and shut out Gresham.
“It’s my job as a sub to just fill in his shoes and keep the team with a clean sheet and do my best to just keep the ball out of the net,” said Villarreal, who had seven saves against Gresham.
“It’s just focus but I have the support of my team. I support them and they support me and we just keep each other going. It’s whatever I can do to help this team win.”
Camarena expects Lopez as well as senior midfielder Jovanie Bravo, who missed the Gresham match with a knee injury, back for West Salem.
“The kids are playing well,” Camarena said.
“We can compete against anyone.”