Celtics outlast West Albany

Kendyl Jennings tries to get past a West Albany defender.(KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).

Kendyl Jennings led the Celtics with six goals as McNary’s girls lacrosse team was able to pull away late to earn the 13-9 victory over West Albany on Tuesday night. 

Haley Hughes chipped in with three scores while Mikayla Fleming and Regann Donahue added two goals apiece in the win.

“We have great chemistry on this team and I think that really helped us tonight,” Jennings said. “We can all read each other really well.”

After missing a couple of point-blank opportunities in the first three minutes, Fleming was the one that got McNary on the board first as she got herself free with a great spin move and put one in the net.

Moments later, Donahue, who was waiting patiently behind the posts waiting for a teammate to get open, found Jennings cutting towards the net, and the junior put one between the pipes to give the Celtics the 2-0. 

Even though they missed some shots right at the net throughout the game, McNary always seemed to be able to get high-percentage looks on the majority of their offensive possessions. 

“We have been really focusing on being smart with our shots,” McNary head coach Becca LaFramboise said. “They really understand the importance of being patient and waiting for the right opportunity.”

West Albany got their first goal of the contest six minutes into the first half, but the Celtics responded almost immediately as Donahue won the face-off and took it all the way herself for the score to put McNary back up by two. 

The Celtics extended the lead to 5-2 after a pair of quick scores by Hughes and Donahue. But McNary could only put one across in the final 15 minutes of the half, allowing the Bulldogs to cut the deficit to one at the break.

But every time West Albany threatened to tie or take the lead in the second half, the Celtics always had an answer. 

“We just had that special click inside of us and whenever the other team scored a goal, we’re always ready to fight back,” Donahue said. 

The two teams traded four goals each in the first 10 minutes of the second half as McNary clung to a 10-9 lead. But a trio of key scores allowed the Celtics to separate themselves down the stretch. 

Hughes scored her third goal of the contest at the 9:21 mark by sneaking in a shot pass the West Albany goalkeeper into the left side of the net. Four minutes later, a shot from Jennings initially looked like it was stopped by the keeper, but the ball just trickled across the line for the score to put McNary on top 12-9. 

Jennings scored her final goal of the game with under a minute remaining as she forced a turnover deep in Bulldog territory, scooped up the ball and fired a laser into the twine, putting her team up 13-9. 

“We have a lot of fight in us,” Jennings said. 

While the offense did their part, it was the defense that carried the torch for McNary in the second half. The Celtics held West Albany scoreless for the final 14 minutes of the game and made sure the Bulldogs didn’t have any easy looks. 

McNary keeper Kylee Daulton also had several key saves late in the game to preserve the win. 

“I was really impressed with our defense. When they needed to be clutch, they came in clutch,” LaFramboise said. “And (Daulton) kept making saves and gave are offense more opportunities to score.”

McNary will return to action at 8 p.m. on Tuesday as they travel to Corvallis to take on the Spartans. 

As the Celtics move towards the latter part of their season, LaFramboise is hoping she can get her team to play with more consistentcy for 50 minutes.

“Right now, we are focused on keeping up with our consistency and playing at the same level in both the first half and second half,” LaFramboise said.