Philomath senior Teddy Benbow makes a diving save in the second half in the team's 3-1 victory. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

On a windy afternoon on Philomath High’s home pitch, the Newport boys soccer team came to town in search of an upset. The Cubs had pushed Philomath to the limit during the Warriors’ state championship season in 2021 and brought a 3-1-1 record into Tuesday afternoon’s game.

“If we play well, we manage Newport and if we don’t, they give us a lot of problems,” Philomath High coach Dave Ellis said. “It was 3-2 at their place last year and this is the game that I expected … I thought we should have put more away in the first half.”

Philomath posted a 3-1 victory to remain unbeaten this season at 5-0. The Warriors have now won nine straight games, a streak that dates back to 2021. Newport hasn’t beaten the Warriors since 2018 in Ellis’s first season as head coach.

Junior Favian Aceves scored in the eighth minute with an assist to senior Seth Arthurs and senior Mateo Candanoza came up with a steal and scored in the 17th minute to give Philomath a 2-0 lead, which held up through halftime.

A pivotal moment in the game occurred in the 44th minute when the Warriors took a three-goal lead on senior Chase Ringwald’s penalty kick. Officials awarded the PK after tagging a Newport defender with a red card in the box.

Warriors senior Mateo Candanoza controls the ball after a steal and would score seconds later to give Philomath a 2-0 lead. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

On the play, Newport’s keeper was drawn away from the net and Candanoza attempted a shot on goal. A Cubs defender made a sliding save but as he went down, the ball hit one of his hands. Under the rules, that’s a red card.

“He used his hand to prevent the ball from going across the line,” Ellis said. “The ruling is the letter of the law because it was in an unnatural position. In the situation, it seemed a bit harsh but, I mean, the referee followed exactly the rule of the law.”

Despite Philomath taking a 3-0 lead on Ringwald’s penalty kick, Newport appeared to gain a degree of momentum over the time that remained.

“After the red card, they kinda had no fear,” Ellis said. “They had nothing else to lose so they attacked with a kind of reckless abandon. We struggled a little bit but I never felt like the game was in jeopardy.”

Philomath’s defense has been a strongpoint with four straight shutouts to open the season. Newport senior Marlon Acevedo became the first player to score against the Warriors on a header off a corner kick that found the net in the 72nd minute.

“It definitely wins us all of our games,” Candanoza said about the defense. “Only conceding one goal all season is crazy … and they’re pretty much like all new guys to varsity on the defense, so they’re doing really good.”

PHS junior Favian Aceves works against the Newport defense. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Newport had opportunities in the second half and in the final minutes nearly converted when senior Sam Hurst’s header missed wide right.

“Definitely we did better in the first half and really it was just like in the last 10 minutes or so that we kinda struggled with our headers in the back and letting them through,” Candanoza said.

Ellis had a similar perspective with Philomath’s defense losing its edge because of those wind gusts.

“The wind played a big part in the game in the two halves,” Ellis said. “Late in the second half, we didn’t deal well with balls out of the air, we let them bounce, which encouraged them to come forward.”

Philomath dominated the first 20 minutes with Acevedo’s goal in traffic and Candanoza’s steal and finish. As Ellis mentioned, Philomath had other opportunities to increase its advantage on the scoreboard.

Sophomore Silas Pittman came very close to scoring in the 11th and 15th minutes — the latter attempt on a quick header after Newport’s goalkeeper flubbed a kick. Pittman also came close on a free kick but the Cubs’ goalkeeper on that play also made an exceptional save.

PHS sophomore Silas Pittman attempts a header on goal in the first half. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Newport had a few chances in the first half with junior Gumi Guzman unable to convert on a free kick and freshman Oliver Peralta missing an opportunity after an effective pass from sophomore Chava Magana.

Philomath senior Brody Bushnell just missed high on a look from 25 yards out just before halftime.

The Warriors (2-0 Oregon West) will now turn their attention to North Marion with a road game at the Aurora-area campus at 4 p.m. Thursday.

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.