McNary midfielder Johnny Bravo looks to advance the ball upfield after getting by a West Salem defender (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).

The McNary boys’ soccer squad gave one of their best performances of the season in their final league game on Monday, April 6.

After West Salem tied the game at 1-1 in the 13th minute, the Celtics scored three unanswered goals to run away with the convincing 4-1 victory. 

“Every single day we are getting better. The difference was that tonight we took advantage of our opportunities. If you can score early, that leads to a tactical change,” McNary head coach Miguel Camarena said. 

In the 3rd minute, the Celtics took advantage of a West Salem error to gain the early lead.

After the West Salem defense controlled possession of the ball deep in their own territory, they played the ball through the goalkeeper. The keeper tried to clear the ball to a midfielder, but his pass was intercepted by McNary midfielder Fisher Vanslyke.

With the keeper out of position, Vanslyke was easily able to fire a shot into the left corner of the net to give the Celtics the advantage.

“It was a bad pass that didn’t get to the other player in time, so I just got the ball, shot it and scored,” Vanslyke said.

West Salem knotted up the game 10 minutes later when Titans captain Yahir Bernal hit the Celtics defense with a nifty spin move and got one past Celtics keeper Miguel Orduna. But later in the half, McNary Eddie Martinez got the Celtics back on top with an impressive individual effort of his own.

In the 30th minute, Martinez juked out two West Salem defenders off the dribble to give himself an opening, then placed a rocket into the upper-right corner of the net, giving McNary the 2-1 lead. 

“That run I made, it all happened so fast, I don’t really remember it. I was just glad we got the lead back,” Martinez said. 

Martinez scored again early in the second half on a beautifully-placed left-footed free kick from about 25 yards away to put the Celtics up by two scores.

Martinez, a senior, appeared that he would get a chance at a hat trick as he got a clear look at the net in the 77th minute. Even though his shot was knocked away, sophomore midfielder Johann Singh Sanchez was trailing the play and was there to corral the rebound and knock the ball into the back of the net. 

Players following their shot is something that McNary is constantly working on during practice, so Camarena was pleased to see his players execute that aspect in a game.

“As a coach, when you see your players do something in a game that you worked on in practice, that makes us so happy,” Camarena said. 

Defensively, the Celtics were able to completely limit West Salem’s shot attempts in the final 40 minutes by controlling the ball for most of the second half. When the Titans did possess the ball, the Celtics defense gave them little room to operate. 

“We work on trying to keep our possession all the time,” Martinez said. 

“Our young guys are learning that you can’t give your opponent space to operate, and when we do that, we are successful,” Camarena added.

McNary will travel to Silverton for a 7:30 p.m. game on Thursday April 8 before concluding their season at home on Saturday, April 10 against Woodburn at 1 p.m.

Matt Rawlings: [email protected]