By Jeremy McDonald
MCMINNVILLE, Ore.– McKay proved that seeding given to them by the OSAA was just a number Wednesday night on the road at McMinnville.
Seeded 17th versus the number one team in all of 6A, on paper the Grizzlies had the advantage on top of defeating the Scots 3-nil earlier this season.
But this is why you play the game, because McKay proved that the seeding was just a number when the whistle blows. It was truly a battle between number one and number two from the Greater Valley Conference.
The Grizzlies brought the pressure early and often against the Scots defense, but Brandon Morales was on mark with his stops with three crucial saves by the 15th minute as their offense was gaining steam entering the second half of the first half.
McKay saw a 27th minute header bounce off the top bar that would’ve broke a 0-all gridlock. Yobeli Manzo saw his shot sail to the left of the goal a few minutes later in the 33rd.
Morales had another big save with five min left to keep McMinnville of board as the physicality picked up as halftime arrived with a 0-all tie.
The Grizzlies offense sustained in 2nd half as the Scots offense cooled off a hair, but Morales and his defense kept the Grizzlies off the board as frustrations began to sink in for McMinnville for their shots not falling.
“It’s very important, we got a stack defense,” Morales described how important his defense played and was Wednesday night.
McKay were the same way when they got a foot on a long ball down the field as Manzo saw his shot go left with 18 minutes to go.
The Scots defense held in the meantime as they continuously deny a McMinnville offense that averages four-five goals a game to just mere shots on goal and shots against the McKay defense as time was winding down to under five minutes to go.
The Scots defense kept sending the ball only to stand firm when the Grizzlies made a run and vice versa as the clock trickled down to four-, three-, two-, one-minute left as both sides tried to snap the scoreless drive.
Then the dagger when there as the clock hit under 10 seconds.
McMinnville took a long ball, drove down the field to see their shot stopped and pushed out by Morales to the far sideline; but before Morales could reset, the Grizzlies scored off the rebound with eight seconds left for the 1-nil win.
Frustrations were there for McKay as they saw McMinnville celebrate on the other side of the field following the final whistle.
“I’m really proud, we fought to the end,” said Morales. “It was a tough game for them, it was a tough game in general. We didn’t really do bad, they just wanted it more.”
For Head Coach Benjamin Lopez, he knows that his team will take this game, this emotion and carry it to 2017, knowing that his team was right there to the end.
“I mean I couldn’t be any more proud of them,” said Lopez. “Not just that group, the whole Salem community. We’ll just keep bouncing back and keep fighting adversity, playing on the road is not easy, but we’ll rebound from this next year.”
Around the team was a large group of McKay supporters congratulating the team on another fantastic season as the Scots finished 10-4-2 overall, 5-2-1 in the GVC with a second-place finish in the conference.
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Photos By Jeremy McDonald