PHS senior Elizabeth Morales sends a corner kick toward the goal during Tuesday afternoon's 8-0 win over Sweet Home. The ball landed untouched in the net to give the Warriors a 4-0 lead at the time. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Lining up to send a corner kick toward her teammates in front of the goal, Philomath High senior Elizabeth Morales braved the sun in her eyes and then gave the ball a pretty good boot toward the net. The play resulted in the team’s fourth goal en route to an 8-0 girls soccer rout Tuesday afternoon over an outmatched Sweet Home squad.

But this goal was no ordinary corner kick. The ball didn’t find the net off a teammate’s foot or head and it didn’t bounce in after the goalkeeper failed to secure it. As a matter of fact, the ball didn’t touch a player on either team. Morales kicked it straight into the goal.

“No, I wasn’t expecting that shot,” Morales said after the game. “So, I was kinda surprised myself that it went in.”

Scoring in such a manner is a rare feat in soccer. It’s a tough angle, the player needs to be extremely accurate, an effective curl on the ball must be accomplished and the shot must avoid all of the players situated in front of the net.

Said PHS coach Mat Phelps, “It was a good strike and you don’t see that too much but it just went straight in.”

Philomath senior Hailie Couture has a smile on her face while scoring her first high school goal during Tuesday’s win over Sweet Home. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Besides the corner kick goal, the Warriors had another special moment on the field when senior Hailie Couture scored the first goal of her high school career. With Philomath holding a comfortable 5-0 lead at halftime, Phelps moved Couture out of the net and into a forward position.

“I’ve never scored a goal in high school — I’ve played keeper every game — so it was just fun to go out there and experience something new,” Couture said.

Couture’s teammates tried hard to set up Couture for shots on goal. And she had a handful of opportunities but wasn’t able to finish. Finally in the 60th minute, she maneuvered past Sweet Home’s keeper and scored the goal that ended the game as the eight-goal mercy rule kicked in.

As a goalkeeper, Couture isn’t required to run up and down the field like the field positions. Over those final 10 minutes of the game, she started to breathe a little hard.

“I’m a little out of shape, definitely,” she said laughing. “I’ve got a lot more respect for what they do and I’m glad that as a goalkeeper, I don’t have to run as much.”

Warriors junior Kamilla Grimmer got this shot around the keeper for her second goal. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Philomath scored two goals in the first five minutes with junior Kamilla Grimmer and Morales both finding the net. Grimmer’s shot in the fourth minute included an assist to Morales. And on the Morales goal in the fifth minute, an assist was credited to sophomore Isabel Morales.

Grimmer scored her second goal of the game in the 21st minute with an assist going to sophomore Heidi Bacho, who took over at goalkeeper in the second half. Elizabeth Morales followed with her corner kick goal in the 26th minute and about four minutes later, sophomore Kateri Pindell scored unassisted from about 30 yards out for a 5-0 lead.

The Warriors were well on their way to victory and it was a welcomed feeling after back-to-back 1-0 losses to Newport and North Marion.

“For sure, it did feel frustrating after the games,” Morales said in a reference to last week’s losses. “After the practices that we had, we did connect better in this game. We most definitely needed it.”

Phelps said players didn’t get down on themselves and instead had a great time competing.

“I think to some extent, they were kinda realizing that it’s fun to play soccer,” Phelps said. “We know that we have good quality and get to show that we have good quality and we can show that against the tough teams, too. Sometimes it’s a little more obvious in these games.”

It’s the third time this season that Philomath defeated an opponent on the eight-goal rule — the earlier ones being 8-0 wins over Cottage Grove on Sept. 7 and over Estacada on Sept. 15. 

Junior Eevi Rolfe controls possession in the first half. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

“I think it was to get back together and play team soccer again,” Couture said. “And also to get some goals — it’s always nice to have some excitement.”

Phelps gave the team credit for keeping the big picture in mind.

“Monday, we had a great practice and they were all ready to go,” Phelps said. “They realize that we still have this season in front of us.”

Philomath scored three goals in the second half with freshman Ana Candanoza ringing up two. Candanoza scored with an assist to Couture in the 43rd minute and followed up with an unassisted goal in the 53rd minute for a 7-0 lead. Couture then scored in the 60th to end the game.

Sweet Home (1-5-2 overall, 0-3-1 Oregon West) posed no offensive threat throughout the game’s 60 minutes with no shots on goal.

Philomath (4-3, 2-2) will play again Thursday with a jaunt over to Stayton. The Eagles have struggled to an 0-7-1 overall record so far this season.

Morales and her teammates are confident that the Warriors can finish strong and still factor into the Class 4A postseason picture.

Said Morales, “I believe … I have faith in my team.”

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.