McNary scored early and put Tualatin on its heels, but as the sun set behind the Lady Celts’ home field, that’s when the Tigers pounced.
But Tuesday night’s 6-1 final score tells a different story than what was on the field.
“We’re right there the whole first half,” head coach Josh Rios Noonkester said. “And we were very organized the whole first half, so it’s much closer than the scoreline showed, that’s how we feel.”
Last season, McNary lost to Tualatin 7-0 in a game that Rios Noonkester said they were never in. Tuesday night, the Lady Celts were very much in the game against the OSAA-ranked No. 2 Tigers.
Less than seven minutes into the game, senior Maya Alston gave McNary an early lead after the Lady Celts took advantage of a misplay from Tualatin goalkeeper Maya Hawks. Nicole Schnurbusch pressed the ball, Alston ended up with it in the box and buried it in the top corner.
The Lady Celts had a few other scoring opportunities, especially in the first half. A few minutes after her goal Alston had a good run towards the goal, and the Lady Celts worked deep in the Tigers’ zone. But they were never able to cash in on these chances.
“Just being more clinical. We didn’t get a ton of chances, but just taking a deep breath, taking an extra touch if they need to and at least getting it on frame,” Rios Noonkester said. “But I would say it’s more on our end defensively, just being sharper with set piece clearances, staying engaged until we get it cleared to a safe spot.”
Tualatin’s set pieces certainly gave McNary some problems. Three of the six goals came off corner kicks, though only one came directly off the pass.
“The other ones we could clean up a hundred percent and we will,” Rios Noonkester said.
This was the final non-league match for McNary before opening Central Valley Conference play on Thursday at Sprague. Prior to the start of league play, Sprague sits atop the CVC at 4-0-3, the only CVC team above .500, and ranked at No. 12 at press time.
At 2-3-1, McNary heads into conference play in a much better place than they were in last season when they finished the year with just three wins.
Six games in, Rios Noonkester is encouraged with the effort the Lady Celts have put out there even in losing efforts to West Linn and South Mefford and a nil-nil tie with Newberg.
“We’re excited for the group and how we’re doing and how we’re progressing,” Rios Noonkester said. “More just recovery now at this point. Nagging injuries, the girl’s are a little banged up and just trying to be as sharp as we can Thursday physically.”