Celts salvage tie with Sheldon

McNary defender Caitlin Huffman looks for a teammate during a throw-in (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).

Even though it’s early in the season, the McNary girls soccer team has already made a habit of coming from behind. 

Centre-back Maya Luscomb scored twice for the Celtics in this one and in their second straight home game, McNary was able to come back from a second half deficit to force a tie as they earned a 2-2 draw with Sheldon on Monday, Sept. 16. 

Considering that McNary fell to the Irish by a score of 3-0 last season, McNary head coach A.J. Nash was very pleased with his team’s performance.

“This team rallies together when they face adversity, and they did it once again tonight with a gutsy effort to get that result,” Nash said. “We put together a solid performance and played with a lot of toughness. 

McNary got their first goal in the 39th minute after earning a corner kick. Midfielder Ariana Santana sent a beautiful ball into a crowd of players battling for position in the box. After the ball deflected off McNary defender Caitlin Huffman, Luscomb got a clean look at the goal and sent a rifle into the twine to put the Celtics on top 1-0. 

“I had the ball on my foot and I saw my opportunity and sent in a controlled ball with power without nailing it over the top of the goal,” Luscomb said. “It happened so fast, I couldn’t believe I actually did it.” 

But just 13 seconds before the end of the first half, Sheldon’s Piper Matson found a way through the Celtics zonal defensive scheme and beat McNary goalkeeper Ashley Doerfler with a shot to the lower right corner to tie the game.

The Irish would score once again in the 45th minute to take a 2-1 lead. But even though McNary was without midfielder Kennedy Buss — who had the miss the game due to injury — the Celtics neutralized the Sheldon attack for the remainder of the game.

“We’re still cleaning up some some early season issues but it was great to see how much we have improved defensively,” Nash said. 

In the 62nd minute, McNary’s Julie Dieker drew a foul in the box, which awarded the Celtics a penalty kick. But instead of choosing a forward to take the shot, Nash elected to go with Luscomb, one of his senior leaders.

“I just felt really confident in Maya at that moment. She’s a senior and she has been in that position before.”

Luscomb was easily able to net her second goal of the game on the penalty kick, evening up the score.

“Our team is full of fighters and we don’t give up. Being down a goal or more fires us up,” Luscomb said.  

Sheldon had a couple chances to score on free kicks late in the second half, but each attempt was saved by Doerfler. 

McNary will play host to Lincoln in their final non-conference home game on Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 7 p.m.