PHS junior Kamilla Grimmer ends up on the turf during a Warrior threat early in the game. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

EUGENE — Playing on the road on a damp, cool evening at No. 1 Marist Catholic, the Philomath High girls would need to play almost perfect soccer to be able to advance out of the quarterfinals.

The Spartans had defeated the Warriors, 2-0, in Philomath’s season opener on Sept. 1 and had not lost all season against a Class 4A opponent. One thing appeared certain in the rematch — both squads would come out fighting to keep their seasons alive and playoff aspirations intact.

In the end, Marist (16-1) defeated Philomath (12-4) by the same 2-0 margin to move forward to the semifinals for a date on Tuesday against North Marion.

“They’ve got dynamic athletes, they can play multiple different ways when they’re outside shots are playing through,” PHS coach Mat Phelps said when asked what Marist does to make it so tough on opponents. “They’re really tough defensively and we just struggled to break them down.”

Philomath came out swinging and nearly snuck a goal in low right on a free kick put in play by senior Mia Cook. Almost every time the Warriors threatened, Marist had a counterattack.

“In the first 10 minutes, we had a lot of chances and even throughout, there were kinda ebbs and flows to the game,” Phelps said. “They would have some chances, then we would.”

PHS senior Mia Cook, left, battles Marist freshman Sadey Woodrum for the ball. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

The Spartans broke through in the 30th minute when senior Paige Meador shot center high into the net. An assist went to freshman Ava Snyder on the play.

Philomath’s best opportunity in the first half may have been with just under 4 minutes remaining. On the play, sophomore Petra Hernandez effectively got the ball in to junior Kamilla Grimmer, who sent a screamer toward the net. Marist’s goalkeeper was there to handle it but it was a deflating moment for the visitors.

Five minutes into the second half, a play that went from Grimmer to Bailey Bell to Hernandez was close but the finish didn’t materialize. About 7 minutes later, Grimmer took a free kick after Hernandez had drawn a foul. But the shot went straight at Marist’s keeper.

“In the second half, we put some good attacks together, too, but just didn’t really get in quality chances at the end,” Phelps said.

PHS goalkeeper Hailie Couture goes high to knock away a Marist shot in the first half. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

A short time later with senior Sela Freeman taking a shot, Philomath goalkeeper Hailie Couture made a diving save but was slow to get up off the turf. She continued in the game but after Marist scored its second goal in the 70th minute, Couture stayed down. Phelps said she suffered possibly a shoulder or rib injury.

Sophomore Heidi Bacho played keeper for the rest of the game.

Junior Cloe Chase found the net for Marist’s second goal after receiving a pass from Freeman. Seconds earlier on the other end, Philomath had just missed tying the game on a Grimmer shot from 23 yards that almost slipped through the Spartans’ keeper’s hands.

Those results on each end of the field combined with Couture’s injury seemed to represent a final blow to Philomath’s chances. Still, as the team walked toward the center of the field after Marist’s second goal, a player yelled out, “Continue to fight.”

Sophomore Petra Hernandez goes for the ball in Saturday’s showdown at Marist. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

“As you can see, there’s a lot of emotion, which shows that they’ve put a lot into it and that they care,” Phelps said as he looked around at his team following the loss.

A postgame talk drove home important points that the coach wanted them to hear.

“We talked about when they work hard like that for one another, when they fight to the end, when they care about something, those are things that they’ll carry with them for the rest of their lives,” Phelps said. “It wasn’t the result that we wanted and there’s certainly ways that we can improve but the work that they put in and the way that they played as a team really showed tonight.”

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.