Keizer — At the Salem-Keizer Soccer Jamboree, I made it clear the need for McNary to show an improved defensive front in order to compete this season in an improved Mountain Valley Conference. Their offensive potential has never been in question, but the defense was a massive question mark, and the Celtics have responded after a rough start to the 2021 season. Sitting at 6-1, McNary already has their most victories in a season since 2017 when they picked up eight wins before a first round playoff exit, so what’s clicked at McNary and who are the big names associated with the program rise?
As is with the main theme, their defense has been the key to their turnaround. In the opener at Westview, the defense was rolled for five goals in a 5-1 road loss, sending a message that things were as normal in Keizer. However, through the work of Head Coach Lauren Brouse, the Celtics have posted six consecutive dubs with three goals allowed and four consecutive clean sheet performances including a win over 5A #6 West Albany. The Celtics netminder Hannah Ferguson has emerged as a rising star as a sophomore, holding off opponents in tough game situations and even picking up 10 saves in a 1-0 win over Franklin. Her performance in the net has been a huge asset for McNary, who have a reliable netminder that can fend off opponents even in games with the slimmest of margins. While McNary has been cycling in and out players defensively, its proven to be effective thus far and with the best results still to come once the formula is discovered.
Offensively, their firepower hasn’t been extravagant, but its been more than enough to aid their new look defense. Junior Tessa Fisher has been the playmaker offensively, delivering numerous plays that are beyond the stat sheet with ball placement, along with the recorded goals and assists that do end up on a final stat sheet. Sophomore Maya Alston and Junior Sydnee Alfano have performed excellent offensively in 2021, who have formed sort of a tough trio with Fisher and have resulted in 16 goals being netted for McNary this season. With these three leading the offense and being supported by Peyton Olafson, Karla Rodriguez, and Katya Martinez, the future of the Celtics is certainly in great hands for this season and beyond.
So what awaits McNary in conference action? It opens on September 28th against Summit and it simply doesn’t get easier until their match with Mountain View on October 20th. Whether their level of performance sustains itself will be answered soon, but for now McNary appears to be a dark horse in an improved Mountain Valley Conference that has offenses that are bigger and better than in years past. The Celtics have much to be proud of with their defensive progress in 2021, and if it sticks around, McNary will undoubtedly be in the mix for an MVC Title this season and the 6A state playoffs in November.