McNary’s Isabella Walker fires a shot that finds the back of the net. Walker scored two of the Celtics eight goals on the afternoon (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).
The McNary girls soccer team only scored one goal in their first three Mountain Valley Conference games. But on Thursday, Oct. 10, the Celtics erupted for their best offensive performance of the season.
Sydney Alfano and Isabella Walker scored two goals apiece and Haley Hughes added a goal and an assist as McNary demolished McKay for their first league win of the season, defeating the Royal Scots 8-0.
While he was happy with the win, one of the biggest takeaways for McNary head coach A.J. Nash was that he got to give some of the team’s more inexperienced players some significant playing time.
“Any win is good, but I was glad that we were able to play some girls who don’t see the field that much and get them some good experience at the varsity level,” Nash said. “Those girls have worked really hard and have earned it. And there were times that the goal-scoring came from those players.”
The second unit missed out on some opportunities in the first 25 minutes of the first half, but Hughes, a senior forward, finally broke the seal in the 26th minute with a nifty goal that just snuck below the crossbar.
“Haley scoring that goal near the end of the first half took a lot of the pressure off. She stepped up and showed a lot of leadership,” Nash said.
The score remained 1-0 at halftime, but the Celtics went on an goal-scoring onslaught to start the second half, scoring six times in a 22-minute stretch.
McNary’s first goal of the half came three minutes in when Hughes set up Walker with a high cross-field pass over the goalie’s head. Walker easily put away the point-blank goal with a header.
“Haley really put me in good position for that goal. I was just there at the right time,” Walker said.
Less than 90 seconds later, Walker put away her second goal after stealing the ball away on a McKay goal kick and hitting a rocket into the back of the net from 30 yards out.
Emma Stephen got in on the action in the 55th minute. The junior defender hit Ashlyn Lyda with a pass off a corner kick. Lyda, got the ball back to Stephen, who took advantage of the space she was given and put a shot into the top corner of the post to make the score 4-0.
Alfano would wind up scoring a back-to-back goals moments later to extend McNary’s lead to 6-0.
Samantha Alfano and Regann Donahue each added goals down the stretch to round out the scoring for McNary.
The Celtics were also stellar defensively in this one, getting their second shutout of the season, allowing just three shots-on-goal.
“We made sure we had good spacing and we were playing to feet really well, which helped us keep possession of the ball,” Hughes said.
With three games remaining, McNary still is in a position to finish in fourth place in the MVC, which would give them a berth in the playoffs, but the Celtics will likely have to win out to keep their postseason dreams alive.
“We are now in a jockey for fourth place. Every game we have is winnable, but we have to show up for the next three games. If we remain focused, it’s definitely within our grasp,” Nash said.
McNary’s next game will be at home against Sprague on Friday, Oct. 18 at 4 p.m.