By Jeremy McDonald
KEIZER, Ore.– McNary knew the challenges that were in front of them when they entered their game against number 13 South Salem Thursday.
Sitting at number 39 in the State in 6A, the Celtics needed a win to even have a chance of the postseason.
Well, they did just that.
Ivan Rios had a hats off performance with a hat-trick, three-goal game offensively to get McNary rolling; and though Rios is happy with getting the feat, it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of his teammates.
“It was difficult at first, but without my team, without my teammates I wouldn’t have scored,” he said. “But we got the one, and that’s the most important thing we had to do today to go to playoffs and our futures ahead of us and we’ll see what happens.”
Away from Rios and the offense on the defensive front, Sebastian Lopez and his defense shut down a Saxon offense that has scored 17 goals in league entering the match, handing South Salem their first shutout since September 7 against Central Catholic in the 3-nil win.
“It was very important, we couldn’t let them back into the game, we couldn’t let them get anymore intensity, get anymore confidence to try to get a score on and get in,” said Lopez on the defense. “So we had to shut it down and we had a good night.”
The win itself, outside of the Power Rankings in moving them up four-spots to 35th with games to still play across the State the next two days, was something spectacular in beating a Saxon team that is now 16th in State entering the weekend.
It’s hard to describe said Rios in the magnitude of a win of this importance.
“I don’t know,” smiles and laughs Rios. “It feels good to be the hero of the game, but it’s the whole team at the end of the day and without the team, I wouldn’t have done it.”
With teams like Glencoe (24)-Clackamas (39) on Friday, Aloha (29)-Gresham (36) Saturday along with three Southwest Conference games going on Saturday, the Celtics positioning could be higher, could be lower depending on how teams around them do between now and 10pm on Saturday when the rankings freeze.
If they’re in, as it’s likely could be the case with Top 36 gets at least a play-in game, confidence is high moving forward for that chance and opportunity that could be waiting for them beyond Thursday night’s game.
“This was a pretty good one especially cause the score is 3-0 and now we’re just lucky to get another clean sheet, another big win and another nice win,” said Lopez.
As they now await their fate, as many teams in 6A and other Greater Valley Conference teams like Sprague (32), and McKay (34) who are on the bubble if they’ll get to lace up the soccer shoes one last time before winter if ever again.