An Alston-Alfano Connection Puts McNary In A Playoff Berth, Their First Since 2017, And Eliminate Mountain View On Senior Night

Keizer — The biggest game of the season for the Mountain View and McNary soccer programs took place on Wednesday afternoon in Keizer, two teams with a free fall 0-5 conference record this season, but yet still finding themselves on the brink of a playoff spot in a crowded 6A field. This game presented itself as more or less an elimination game, with the Celtics holding the keys to the final playoff spot entering the contest on Wednesday and the Cougars sitting in the first at-large spot behind them.

McNary came out firing from the start, putting the pressure on the Cougars and forcing Rylee Todd into a tough position as the goalkeeper. Todd made some great saves in the first few minutes, making a couple of clutch saves on direct shots at the net to keep the game scoreless. Fast forward to the 20th minute, Alicia Welker found her way into a position in front of the Celtics netminder Hannah Ferguson, drilling a shot past her right side to put Mountain View on the board 1-0 halfway through the opening half. The rest of the half was headlined by a pushing Celtics offense, but their opportunities never materialized into a goal, and it was 1-0 Mountain View leading at the half.

Less than a minute into the second half, McNary got a massive break with a penalty kick opportunity on a Cougar foul in the goalkeeper box. Isabelle Gatchet converted it into a tied contest, drilling it right side to tie up the game and give the Celtics much needed momentum after a half of frustration and missed opportunity. The laundry list of chances to score came in the 45th, 46th, 48th, and 60th minute for McNary, with each one either being stopped by Todd or just missing the goal. In the 63rd, something special happened when Maya Alston delivered a perfect cross across the field, and Sydnee Alfano finished it with a beautiful one-timer shot past the Cougars to give McNary a 2-1 lead. The connection was the most clutch play this season for McNary, who found themselves 17 minutes away from likely locking in a playoff position.

As time wound down on Mountain View, the Celtics drilled two more strong opportunities in the 75th and 78th minutes but couldn’t complete the play. Mountain View had a free kick chance in the 77th, delivering a strong shot but being stonewalled by Ferguson. With two minutes left, Mountain View had a decent shot that slipped through Ferguson’s reach, sliding all the way to the edge of the net line, but she recovered in time to scoop up the ball and save the lead. The time would eventually run out on Mountain View, with McNary taking the 2-1 win and Mountain View being eliminated from the 6A playoff picture. With the win, the Celtics have locked themselves into the playoffs with one game left against West Salem on Friday. Its a huge step up for the Celtics program, who will see their first playoff appearance since 2017 this season. Their likely opponents are Jesuit, Lake Oswego, or Beaverton in the opening round, with the rankings becoming official at 10 PM on Tuesday.

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