By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes
McNary (5-1-2) wanted to show the rest of the new Mountain Valley Conference that it was here to fight for the league championship.
After a 5-1 win over West Salem (2-5-1) on Tuesday, the Celtics are now ready to prove they’re one of the top teams in the state.
McNary will get that shot Saturday at Summit (7-1).
“We have to give everything that game,” McNary junior Jack Baez said. “They’re a top three team in the state so we need to show them that we’re up there with them. We have to come out big.”
The Celtics came out big against West Salem, scoring two goals in the first eight minutes.
Francisco Rios put in the first. Luis Lopez scored the second.
But then McNary relaxed and the Titans took advantage as Andres Labate fired a shot into the net to get West Salem within 2-1 early in the second half.
Picking up the pace, Baez tapped in a goal to extend the Celtics lead to 3-1 with 29 minutes remaining.
“It was a really nice assist,” Baez said. “I just got lucky I was in the right place at the right time.”
Midway through the second half, Baez added a second goal to give McNary a 4-1 lead.
“We got too composed, too cocky,” Baez said. “We had to pick it up. We had to come to a realization that this game isn’t over, 2-0 is always the most dangerous score in soccer so we just had to continue to pick it up in the second half. It was good we didn’t let our heads down our anything like that. We raised the tempo instead of lowering it down. That’s another thing that is special about this team. We overcome a lot of things.”
Alex Salazar put in the final goal of the night with 13 minutes left to play.
“There’s just something special about this team this year,” Baez said. “We just connect way better this year and I’m confident going into this league. I feel like we’re a top team, hopefully we continue to show it. We just have to continue with our hard work.”
Goal keeper Alejandro Villarreal had five saves, playing for the injured Sebastian Lopez, who McNary head coach Miguel Camarena expects back soon.
“He’s getting there but we want to be smart,” Camarena said. “It’s a huge asset to have two goal keepers.”
Saturday’s game at Summit begins at noon.
“It’s going to be a tough one but if our kids play their game, we should be good,” Camarena said. “They’re a pretty good technical team with a lot of possession so our goal is going to be to try to take the ball away from them and create opportunities.”