Shaul Levi, professor emeritus with Oregon State University’s College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, died Dec. 6. OSU recently posted an obituary on its website. He was 79 and had been battling leukemia.
Levi, who played collegiately at the University of San Francisco, coached the Philomath High boys soccer team from 1990 to 2003 and compiled a career record of 150-52-15. His teams never finished below .500 during the entire 14-year run as head coach and qualified for the state playoffs 11 times.
“At Philomath, he made strong bonds with his players, some of whom kept in touch with him until he passed,” reads an excerpt from his obituary. “During his coaching career at Philomath High School, he earned coach of the year awards several years in a row.”
Philomath High’s best season under Levi in terms of winning percentage came in 2000 when the team went 17-1-1.
Levi came into the PHS job after coaching in the Corvallis youth soccer program. In his first season at the helm in 1990, the Warriors tied for the district championship and earned their first-ever trip to the state playoffs, ending up 12-2-1 overall.
“He’s taken a different approach to coaching,” then-athletic director Gary Cox said about Levi in a 1990 Corvallis Gazette-Times article. “He’s a pretty quiet, reserved type of person. He’s very technique-oriented, and they play very good team soccer.”
The team beat Oregon Episcopal in the first round of the 3A-2A playoffs before falling to Henley in the quarterfinals.
The following season, Philomath went 11-5-2 and again qualified for state. The Warriors beat Rogue River, 3-0, before losing 1-0 to Junction City in the quarters. The team didn’t reach the postseason in 1992 or 1993 but had above .500 records at 6-5-2 and 5-4-1, respectively. In 1994, Philomath was back at state during a 12-3-1 season. The Warriors received a bye in the first round but then lost to Catlin Gabel in the quarterfinals, 1-0.
The 1995 team had an 11-2-1 record and fell to Astoria in the first round, 2-1. In 1996, the Warriors went 12-5-2, which included a 2-1 win over Gladstone in the first round before falling to Henley in the quarterfinals, 1-0, in a game that came down to penalty kicks.
In 1997, Philomath finished 11-3-3 and in the playoffs, defeated Seaside in the first round, 2-1, before losing to Marist in the quarterfinals, 3-0. In 1998, the Warriors went 10-7 and dropped a 2-1 game to The Dalles in the first round.
The 1999 season brought an 11-4 record, which included a run into the state semifinals. The Warriors earned a bye in the first round and beat La Salle 1-0 in the second round. Philomath followed with a 1-0 victory over Phoenix in the quarters. In the semis, eventual champion Catlin Gabel beat the Warriors, 1-0.
Then came that 2000 season and the 17-1-1 record with Philomath earning a first-round bye, beating South Umpqua (3-0) in the second round and defeating Marist (2-1) in the quarterfinals. Catlin Gabel eliminated Philomath in the semifinals, 2-1, in double overtime.
In 2001, Philomath finished 15-3-1 and featured another appearance in the semifinals. The Warriors got a first-round bye and then beat East Linn Christian (4-0) in the second round and Wilsonville (1-0) in the quarterfinals. Junction City, the eventual champion, downed Philomath in the semis, 1-0.
The 2002 season ended with a 12-6 record. The Warriors opened the playoffs with a 7-0 rout over Riverside before falling to Junction City, 6-1. In 2003, Levi’s final season, the team went 7-5-1 and missed the playoffs.
Levi impacted a lot of student-athletes at PHS through all of those years as the head coach. His days as Warriors coach came well before my arrival in Philomath but he obviously was a key figure in the transformation of the sport on the local campus. The program established a tradition of participating in the playoffs when Levi was the coach.
(Brad Fuqua is publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He can be reached at News@PhilomathNews.com).