LAX team takes second in league

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Preston McNeely looks for an open teammate. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Preston McNeely looks for an open teammate. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

If there were any doubters left among local lacrosse fans, the McNary High School varsity lacrosse team put them to rest Monday, May 12.

After beating the South Salem High School Saxons in their first game of league play this season, the Celts repeated the feat in a 15-10 victory.

“That first win over South this season was huge for us, it was the first time we beat them since we started the team,” said Preston McNeely, who netted three points for McNary in the game Monday.

Lacrosse, which is run as a club sport, combines physicality of football with the finesse of soccer and the strategy of basketball. The combination makes for an extremely fast-paced and energized game.

McNary started out down 2-0 in the early minutes of the game, but returned after a time out picking up the slack and then overtaking the Saxons.

Scoring players for the Celtics were: Joseph Giblin, one goal and four assists; David Gonzalez and Cade Christensen, four goals each; Isaiah Vian, two goals and one assist; and Michael Phelps, one goal.

The win this week over South also marked two firsts for the McNary club: a winning record (7-3 in league, 10-9 overall), and a second place finish, the team’s highest since its inception.

“We’re hoping it means we’ll face a mid-level team in the playoffs,” said Vian, a senior and four year veteran of the team. Vian started playing lacrosse with the intention of building football skills, but decided he liked lacrosse better and stuck with it.

A passion for the sport prompted McNeely to find a way to pay it forward.

“I’ve started coaching a younger team and that’s been a lot of fun,” he said. “The only thing we’re missing is the crowds to come out and see us play.”

Vian and Giblin said the team managed to survive the loss of several seniors to graduation by doubling down on the new players in the varsity team.

“We kept pushing forward as a team and bonded in the preseason when we were facing three of the top 20 teams in the state,” Giblin said.

The team also had near perfect attendance in conditioning sessions and that had a positive impact.

“The new players have been playing with all their hearts. We can teach everything else, but they have to be willing to learn,” Vian said.

Hunter Rosenblatt, Tanner Hughes, Ian Lipanovich, Jeremy Williams, Kyle Bonn, Austin Fisher and Cameron Engle rounded out the Celtic varsity ranks this season.

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