Salem — The Salem-Keizer schools hosted their jamboree on Friday at South Salem High School, giving an idea at how each school looks entering the 2021 season. The jamboree featured a mixed combination of observations, but mostly reinforced what I already suspected about each team I saw on Friday.
Sprague Finds Their Goalie, Look Like The Real Threat To West Salem
The Olys finished second to the Lady Titans in the Spring season, surprising many in the conference who had written off Sprague as a bottom feeder. Led by All-American nominee Nicky Williams, Sprague is looking primed to take a real shot at West Salem for the Mountain Valley Conference title in 2021. One of the biggest question marks entering Friday was the Olys goalkeeping situation, as their current goalie Piper Millikan is a true freshman. She showed her potential, throwing up two clean sheets against McNary and West Salem, coming through with some clutch saves to keep the game scoreless with the Lady Titans. Its safe to call that the Olys have found their goalkeeper, and that training will only continue to blossom her potential at that position. The offensive potential is clear, but can the defense support their freshman goalkeeper sufficiently?
West Salem Is Still The MVC Queen
Despite the level of enthusiasm on Sprague, the favorite and queen of the Mountain Valley Conference is still the West Salem Lady Titans. With their stud goalkeeper Natalie Cunningham, the Lady Titans will be set on the defensive end of things. Offensively, it just simply comes to making better plays and putting the ball into prime positions to score. They looked solid all the way around, and if it wasn’t for Piper Millikan robbing them 3-4 times, they would’ve beat Sprague 2-0 or more. However, if it were a full 90 minutes, West Salem likely would’ve eventually broke through with a netter. Either way, just tighten up on both sides and the Lady Titans will be just fine in 2021.
Can South Salem Make Some Noise?
The Lady Saxons faced McNary in their only match on Friday, getting a feeling of what their 2021 squad is all about. After some early struggles, the offense got a spark from Mya Fry, who netted the first goal for South Salem. Freshman Madi Gunter put in her first goal later in the session, as South Salem shut out McNary 2-0. The Lady Saxons were locked in a tough fight for possession with the pesky McNary offense, but they eventually took advantage of the Lady Celtics mistakes on defense and took the lead. If they offense can find that kind of chemistry consistently, there’s no question it can be a high powered attack at Gilmore Field.
Defensively, South Salem was sloppy against McNary, as the Lady Celtics pushed the attack at the net and the Lady Saxons had a saving grace in their goalie Maggie Lapray. If that were against Sprague or West Salem, it likely wouldn’t have turned out the same way. Just like Sprague, can South Salem support their goalie well enough to make some noise with a team still trying to find their chemistry on both sides of the ball? That question will remain to be seen in the non-conference slate.
McNary’s Defense Will Define Their Season
Just like last season, McNary appears to be primed for a high powered offense without a supportive defense. This makes for games with seven or more goals between teams, as the offense can produce goals but the D can’t keep the opponent out of the net. If they want to win more in 2021, then they have to work towards a complete team game. While they are young like their counterparts at South Salem, they will be eaten alive by teams with seasoned rosters like Sprague, West Salem, and Summit if their defense isn’t any better than the Spring. Their offense certainly has the potential to put up goals, but the real question is….how many does their defense allow?