McNary falls to South Salem after gaining early advantage

McNary midfielder Karla Rodriguez controls the ball off the bounce (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).

The McNary girls’ soccer squad was able to compete with South Salem for the first 55 minutes of the contest. The Saxons, however, ran away with the game in the second half. 

After the Celtics took a 1-0 lead in the 25th minute, South Salem scored four unanswered goals to earn the 4-1 victory on Thursday, March 4, spoiling McNary’s home opener. 

McNary first-year head coach Lauren Brouse said that she felt that the final score wasn’t indicative of how the team competed. 

“I was really proud of the way my team played. I don’t feel like the score is reflective of how we played,” Brouse said. “We’re still learning how to play together.”

Coming into the season, the Celtics didn’t have a set goalkeeper in place. During the first half of this game, Brouse put senior defender Caitlin Huffman in the back of the net to play goalie for the first time in her career.

Huffman was tested early and often, but refused to budge. South Salem had a pair of great looks in the opening 10 minutes, but Huffman got back-to-back diving saves to turn the Saxons away — Huffman had five saves in the first 15 minutes of the game. 

“We don’t really have a set keeper right now, so when we asked who wanted to step up, Caitlin was ready and willing,” Brouse said. “You never would have guessed that she had never been a keeper before. She did so well.”

McNary only had one shot-on-goal in the first 20 minutes of the game. However, the Celtics broke the scoreless tie with 15 minutes remaining in the half. 

Celtics midfielder Tessa Fisher broke past the Saxons back line off the dribble and got herself enough space on the right side to cross the ball to the middle. Isabella Walker positioned herself to receive the ball and knocked it into the back of the net to give McNary the lead.

“It was a great pass from Tessa. I was really glad she was able to send it in and I was just in the right place at the right time,” Walker said. 

South Salem, however, broke through just moments later when Mya Fry scored the first of her two goals after winning a one-on-one situation with Huffman. 

In the 34th minute, the Saxons took their first lead when Kaitlyn Jones was awarded a free kick from 30 yards away and placed a perfect shot into the upper right corner of the goal. 

“You can’t do much when (Jones) is placing it in the upper side netting,” Brouse said. 

After some back-and-forth action to begin the second half, the Saxons took a two-score lead in the 57th minute thanks to a goal by Maeve Morris. Fry scored her second goal of the contest in the 75th minute. 

McNary’s best chance at a goal in the second half came with eight minutes left when Kennedy Buss sprinted past the Saxons defense and fired a missile towards the net, but the shot was saved by the South Salem keeper. 

McNary looks to bounce back on Monday when they travel to Sprague to take on the Olympians at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, March 8.  

“This definitely shows us exactly what our focus should be at practice. We need to build our confidence to know that we can compete with teams like South Salem,” Brouse said. 

Matt Rawlings: [email protected]