McNary midfielder Oscar Chavez boxes out a Crescent Valley defender to track down a loose ball (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).
After suffering a tough defeat against Newberg in their previous game, the McNary boys' soccer squad bounced back in their final non-league contest.
With the score tied at 1-1 going into the half, the Celtics rallied for three unanswered goals over a 20-minute stretch in their 4-2 victory over Crescent Valley on Friday, Sept. 24.
“The win was good for the kids. It's good for their confidence going forward,” McNary head coach Miguel Camarena said.
The Celtics missed out a pair of opportunities early, but made a connection in the 11th minute to take the 1-0 lead.
Off a throw-in by midfielder Oscar Chavez, Johann Singh Sanchez split a pass by a pair of Crescent Valley defenders to an open Axel Zapien, who took advantage of his one-on-one opportunity with the opposing keeper and sent a shot into the right corner of the net.
“As soon as I got the ball on the breakthrough, it was all about taking it to the front of the goalie and then shooting to the side. It was pretty much a tap in,” Zapien said.
McNary was able to keep possession of the ball for the majority of the first half, making it difficult for the Raiders to get shots-on-goal. However, when Crescent Valley did finally get a clean look at the net, they made it count thanks to a Celtics miscue.
Raiders freshman forward Alex Westberry created some space for himself and fired a shot at the net from about 30 yards away. McNary goalkeeper Emerson Carella was in perfect position to stop the attempt, but the ball slid right through his hands and into the back of the net, which tied the game at 1-1.
Despite the error, the Celtics responded in the first five minutes of the second half.
After McNary's Aldair Cruz Barocio cleared the ball from the back line past the midfield, Celtics forward Hudson Brunk outran a Crescent Valley defender for the ball, then placed an impressive touch shot off the hop and into the goal to give McNary the lead back.
“I had a similar play in the first half, but the goalie was a little closer the first time and I wasn't able to chip it over him. But this time I had a little more space and got it over him,” Brunk said. “It's always nice to get the lead and I think after that the game definitely shifted our way.”
In the 60th minute, McNary took advantage of a Crescent Valley error to increase their lead to 3-1. Junior midfielder Owen Alston fought for possession near the sideline and crossed the ball into the middle of the field. A Crescent Valley defender tried to clear the ball in the air, but ended up knocking it into the Raiders net for an own goal.
The Celtics dominant second half continued moments later as Sanchez connected on a free kick from 25 yards out to extend McNary's lead to 4-1.
“When we have a rough first half, there is nothing you can really do except come out and play hard in the second half and that's exactly what we did. We were moving the ball faster and were controlling the game,” Zapien said.
Despite getting just two shots-on-goal in the second half, Crescent Valley did score once again in the 77th minute after being awarded a penalty kick. It was the 10th goal the Celtics had given up in their last four games, a trend that Camarena is hoping to fix as his team prepares for Mountain Valley Conference play.
“We are giving up way too many goals. We limited their opportunities but they still scored twice. We need to improve on our back line so that we are not giving up so many goals,” he said.
“They got lucky on their goals because of the mistakes we made,” Brunk added.
McNary hosts South Salem in their MVC home opener at 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 1.
Matt Rawlings: [email protected]