Philomath High’s girls soccer team had a rough ending to its season Saturday night in Grants Pass with a 1-0 loss to Hidden Valley in the Class 4A quarterfinals.
The Warriors and Mustangs played a scoreless game deep into the second half with the home team getting what would be the game-winner off the foot of freshman Kaylee Bennett. The gut-punch to Philomath’s chances occurred in the 72nd minute on a shot from the outside that skipped along the wet turf into the net.
“We felt like we were the better team for much of the game even though we weren’t quite clicking,” PHS coach Mat Phelps said. “We just weren’t staying connected on a consistent basis but we still felt like we had our chances.”
Philomath appeared to have more opportunities than the opponent in the second half but just couldn’t find the net. The Warriors were especially aggressive over the final 10 minutes. Sophomore Ana Candanoza got off a solid shot in the 30th minute but Hidden Valley’s goalkeeper was able to get the save. A minute later, junior Isabel Morales-Marquez had a chance on the right side but the shot hit the side of the net.
In the second half, Philomath came out with energy and threatened about six minutes in on a free kick that Hidden Valley was able to deflect out of bounds. Forty seconds later, Morales-Marquez centered a shot that curved toward the middle and a Philomath teammate was in position but again, the keeper was able to make the play. A corner kick ensued but hit the back of the net.
In the 51st minute, Morales-Marquez placed a shot toward the upper third of the goal but Hidden Valley’s keeper went high to make the catch.
“At the start of the second half, we had our chances but then we kind of hit a wall where they brought a lot of energy and we just didn’t match it,” Phelps said. “I think we got frantic rather than finding each other and staying connected.”
With a couple of minutes remaining, Philomath had one final push to try to score the equalizer. Senior Kamilla Grimmer took a free kick after a Hidden Valley foul and centered the ball but it went off of a defender’s leg and out of bounds. Grimmer took the corner kick that followed and the Mustangs were able to get a head on it, pick up the loose ball in traffic and kick it out of bounds. After a Philomath throw-in, senior Bailey Bell attempted a shot that went wide right.
Hidden Valley (13-1-3) was able to hold possession the rest of the way to secure the win.
Playoff soccer can be challenging with a higher level of stress on the pitch.
“Sometimes you never know how you’re going to handle it,” Phelps said. “They were a physical team that brought some energy and we just didn’t quite respond how we needed to.”
Hidden Valley’s defense became the only team this season to shut out Philomath.
“They had extra defenders back and were fairly tight in the middle,” Phelps said. “But I feel like it was more of a product of us not staying connected, not finding each other and working off each other. We forced things when we didn’t need to force things. We were just a little off tonight, unfortunately.”
On Philomath’s defensive end, junior goalkeeper Heidi Bacho had several exceptional moments in the contest.
“She’s been great all year and she was good today, too,” Phelps said. “I mean, she stepped up and came out and cleared several balls and was quick off the line to scoop up balls that were through balls. There was just the one that took a skip off the turf and those are hard to deal with when it’s wet. But she played great.”
Melea Lattin, Aspen Russell and Kateri Pindell — all juniors — caused problems for Hidden Valley as well with their play in the back, the coach said.
Philomath ends the season at 13-3.
“I don’t think tonight was a good reflection of the season that we had — a group of girls that was extremely fun to work with and came every day ready to play soccer and ready to work hard,” Phelps said. “They were great teammates for one another and always picked each other up on any given day.”
Grimmer finished the season with 32 goals and Bell was a double threat passing and scoring but several players contributed on the offensive end.
“Several people could contribute by scoring or getting assists,” Phelps said. “So it was a great year, it was a great group of girls.”
Philomath came into the playoffs seeded No. 5 and defeated Molalla, 3-1, in the first round while No. 4 Hidden Valley eliminated Ontario, 1-0, to set up the quarterfinal matchup.
The top four seeds of the playoffs have advanced to the semifinals. No. 1 Marist Catholic will host Hidden Valley and No. 3 North Marion will head to No. 2 Scappoose with both of those matches set for Tuesday. The championship game is scheduled for Nov. 11 at Liberty High in Hillsboro.