Gophers wash out Celtics’ title dreams

Sometimes you’re Danny Noonan, sometimes you’re Carl Spackler. 

And just like Bill Murray’s groundskeeper character from Caddyshack, the No. 5 McNary Celtics’ run came to an end at the hands of the Gophers in the second round of the OSAA state championship.

Gresham, the No. 12 seed, came into Flesher Field and handed the undefeated Celtics their first loss of the season in a 3-0 final.

“They’re a really good team,” McNary head coach Miguel Camarena said. “Realistically we didn’t do the things I was expecting for us to do.” 

The Gophers were fast, crisp and controlled the ball with almost every touch. They created attacks and scoring chances throughout the game.

A little more than halfway through the first half, Gresham got on the board with a rebound goal. They had had three good scoring opportunities earlier, but all three sailed over the crossbar. 

Maybe it was early adrenaline, maybe it was the wet conditions. Either way, Gresham settled and took control of the match.

Only once in the regular season had The Celtics trailed. They went down early in the first round of the playoffs against Clackamas, but rallied early in the second half to take control. 

On Tuesday, trailing for just the third time in 15 games, they just weren’t able to get on the board. 

But not for the lack of opportunity.

In the first half, the Gresham goalkeeper came up with two huge plays.

First, he snatched a bouncing ball in front of the net out of midair just before senior Johann Singh Sanchez could get his head on it.

Later, he made a great save on a shot from freshman Ryder Allen. Earlier in the half Allen had a shot hit the post. 

Central Valley Conference Player of the Year Hudson Brunk also hit the post on a play in the second half. Brunk worked his way through multiple defenders, missing a goal by an inch.

“We just couldn’t maintain momentum,” Brunk said. “If one of those goes in, whole different game.”

Having such close chances in an important game and coming up empty had to be difficult on the Celtics.

“Our kids were flat,” Camarena said. “Having those opportunities trying to get back into the game, after every game in the season we score two or three goals, it’s difficult.” 

The Gophers added a second rebound goal early in the second half to move to a 2-0 lead. And then late in the half they added some insurance with a third goal.

Despite being down multiple goals for the first time this season, the Celtics didn’t slow down.

“I don’t think we were out of it at any point in the game,” Brunk said. “Even after that third goal, our players are still sprinting to win every ball, giving it their all.”

Camarena wasn’t sure what they could have done differently, and said he needed to watch the tape for specifics.

“I’m just proud of the boys,” Camarena said. “We played against a very good team, and they were better than us tonight.”