Philomath High's Mateo Candanoza, flanked by North Marion's Will Orr, left, and Alexis Lopez, sizes up the goal with Huskies goalkeeper Jonathan Vallejo in net. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Getting up off the ground after missing the goal wide left on a header attempt, Philomath High senior Seth Arthurs pounded his fist into the ground. That moment in the game, which occurred in the 55th minute, captured the feeling that Philomath experienced in a home appearance on Tuesday afternoon against North Marion.

Yes, a feeling of frustration hung heavy in the air after this one. The Warriors remained unbeaten but had to settle for a scoreless tie against a North Marion squad with a deceiving 3-4-5 record.

“I thought we absorbed a lot of pressure and I thought at halftime we adjusted our tactics and created good counterattacks,” Warriors coach Dave Ellis said. “We just didn’t put them away, you know, that’s part of the game. Sometimes the ball doesn’t go in the net.”

Philomath had at least five opportunities in the first half — four of those on headers. In the 12th minute, senior Nixon Mooney saw a header sail high after Arthurs had set him up. In the 21st, senior Mateo Candanoza put the ball in play on a corner kick and sophomore Silas Pittman’s header missed wide right. Five minutes later, Mooney sent a cross toward Pittman who was just inches away from getting his head on a ball with an open section of net in front of him. And in the 30th, senior Chas Ringwald just missed getting a header following a Pittman corner kick.

Philomath senior Seth Arthurs attempts a header in the second half. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

The Warriors had their moments of offensive pressure against the Husky defenders. In the 32nd minute, for example, senior Brody Bushnell sent a ball to Candanoza who passed to freshman Zach Grapoli but Philomath couldn’t cash in.

North Marion had its opportunities as well but also couldn’t find the net. Philomath was being stingy on defense but the Huskies were also having shooting accuracy issues. The two teams broke for intermission at 0-0.

“There were three or four chances we should have buried in there — four opportunities in the first half that if we played the right ball through, we would’ve been on it,” Ellis said.

PHS senior Brody Bushnell fights for possession against North Marion’s Aaron Rodriguez, left, Josue Lomeli. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

The Warriors had more chances in the second half to break through. Perhaps Philomath’s best opportunity of the afternoon to score came in the 44th minute when Arthurs sent the ball downfield to Pittman and he passed over to Mooney, who had a good look at the net but missed wide right.

In the 67th, Mooney to Arthurs sets up a shot but the goalkeeper makes a stop. Two minutes later, Candanoza sent a ball to Grapoli but it was a little too far in front and Sweet Home’s keeper got to it.

The Warriors also had a couple of opportunities over the final 10 minutes. Pittman came close to sneaking one in on a shot from the side of the net. Then with about three minutes left on a free kick, Pittman faked his approach to the ball with Candanoza taking it instead and dribbling downfield to try to set up an offensive. But the play didn’t develop and the Huskies held on the rest of the way.

Philomath had to play the final eight minutes without Arthurs, who had to leave the game and visit with the trainer after getting hit in the face.

PHS sophomore Silas Pittman heads the ball while North Marion senior Alexander Perez Hernandez looks on. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

The Warriors (8-0-3 overall, 5-0-3 Oregon West) also tied North Marion (3-4-5, 2-3-3) earlier this season, 2-2.

“They have a style that particularly gives us a bit of trouble but I still think we weathered it,” Ellis said. “Yeah, they had a lot of possession … but I never felt like we were going down. I never really felt like we were going to concede a goal in that game — it was just whether we were going to counter and get it on the other side.”

Philomath hasn’t allowed a goal since those two that North Marion scored on Sept. 29. The Warriors have shut out five straight opponents and allowed just three goals all season.

The Warriors, still sitting at No. 1 in the OSAA rankings, will host Sweet Home at 3:30 p.m. Thursday in their regular-season home finale. As such, the team’s seniors will be recognized before the game. Philomath ends the regular season on Oct. 25 at Stayton in what could decide the Oregon West Conference championship.


Brad Fuqua, Philomath News

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.