PHS senior Seth Arthurs scores a goal after receiving a pass from Nixon Mooney during the team's 2-0 win Tuesday over Cascade. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

The goal came in the eighth minute and served as an example of perfect execution.

Philomath’s Nixon Mooney passed the ball to Mateo Candanoza in the corner and he quickly sent a cross toward teammate Seth Arthurs over the middle. Arthurs without hesitation executed a precision, well-timed pass to Silas Pittman for the goal.

Cascade’s keeper never had a chance.

The goalkeeper at the opposite end of the field, PHS senior Teddy Benbow, said the goal served as a highlight but at the same time, he also knows that the team needs to be more consistent moving forward. In fact, that seems to be the theme with this squad — although the Warriors haven’t lost a game since Oct. 26, 2021, they avoid becoming content with their win-loss record and put in work to progress to a higher level of play.

“I don’t think we’ve hit our maximum potential yet,” Benbow said after Philomath’s 2-0 victory. “We still have struggles that we don’t have at other times. It’s hit and miss for a lot of stuff but when we play well, we put nice passes together.”

Just like the Mooney to Candanoza to Arthurs to Pittman sequence.

“If we can get that 100% of the time, it’ll be a lot better,” Benbow added. “But even though we haven’t played 100%, we’re still pulling out wins, shutouts.”

That’s true as Philomath with the win extended its unbeaten streak to 13 straight games — an 11-0-2 run that dates back to last season.

Philomath senior Ian Alba has been a key player on defense this season. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Providing comments in a similar vein as Benbow was head coach Dave Ellis. The Warriors have had promising results this season — although PHS would rather have wins than ties against North Marion and Stayton — and Ellis hopes the squad can finish strong over the next two weeks to build momentum toward postseason success.

“We still have things to improve on,” Ellis said. “I mean, we’re undefeated and we still haven’t achieved what we’re capable of doing.”

The coach said the team had that type of late push last year to bring it all together.

“We weren’t the machine that we were at the end of the year,” Ellis said. “What I mean is we were wavering at this point and we had some tough results. So, we’ll see if we can put it together.”

Warriors junior Lukas Dunn heads the ball in the second half. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Philomath’s second goal came in the 20th minute on another well-executed, bang-bang play. Mooney got the ball to Arthurs, who was able to finish with a chip shot.

Ellis said the team executed its game plan well in the first half — an approach that featured a wide attack to neutralize Cascade’s top defender, senior sweeper Jacob Hampton. Throw in solid game management and the Warriors winning more balls and the victory was imminent.

“Today was like a hot, sticky day and it affected the game and the way they played,” Ellis added. “They’re very direct, the ball’s always in the air, and it just makes for a choppy game with a lot of stoppages.”

The shutout was Philomath’s seventh in nine games this season with the defense representing an important ingredient in the team’s overall recipe for success. Besides, the offense has been somewhat inconsistent and is averaging under three goals per game.

And get this. Philomath opponents have scored only three goals — which ties Philomath for the fewest allowed in Class 4A.

The keeper who plays behind the back line, Benbow, said he wasn’t sure of what to expect on defense heading into this season after losing exceptional talent from 2021.

“At the beginning of the year, I was definitely nervous … I was thinking I’ll have to make more saves,” Benbow admitted. “But I haven’t really been pushed — they’ve kept basically everything out and I haven’t had to do much.”

PHS senior Chase Ringwald makes a defensive stop in front of the net during the first half against Cascade. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Philomath’s record improved to 7-0-2 overall and 4-0-2 in the Oregon West Conference. The Warriors will now head to Newport on Thursday to face the Cubs, an opponent that has caused problems in the past. Newport will enter the game with records of 4-2-4 overall and 1-2-3 in the conference after posting its third straight 1-1 tie. Philomath beat Newport, 3-1, on Sept. 27. Thursday’s game is scheduled for a 6 p.m. start.

Cascade dropped to 5-4-1 overall, 2-3-1 in league play.

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.