Sophomore Silas Pittman's reaction after the Warriors failed to finish on a goal opportunity captures the mood of the evening, which ended with a 2-1 overtime loss to Phoenix. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Dreams of a second straight state title for the Philomath High boys soccer program ended on Tuesday night on a wet pitch in Corvallis.

Dreams of another magical postseason run to send 13 seniors out with another championship were gone. And dreams of matching soccer skills with the other top programs in the state — maybe even another shot at No. 1 Stayton — evaporated as the players watched another team celebrate.

Phoenix survived several offensive assaults, tied the game in the 69th minute and then got the game-winning goal in the second overtime to eliminate the Warriors from the playoffs, 2-1.

“This year, we played with weight on our shoulders and we struggled. I’m incredibly proud of the seniors, I’m incredibly proud of the boys,” PHS coach Dave Ellis said. “They did everything we asked them to do and they created the opportunities and we should’ve won that game.

“Nine times out of 10 we would but it’s just life,” he added. “It’s heartbreaking for them. It’s not fair to this class to go out that way.”

Those words from the head coach summed up the evening under the lights on Crescent Valley’s field. The pain of losing hasn’t been felt in the program in a full year as Philomath’s unbeaten streak was snapped at 17 games. The Warriors won their final four games last season — all playoff victories — and headed into this postseason at 9-0-4.

“You need a bit of luck. We didn’t get any tonight,” Ellis said. “We should’ve scored eight to 10 goals in that game. But credit to them, they battled, they battled, they battled — it’s a good team.”

Phoenix (8-6-1), which came into the contest as the No. 14 seed, will move on to play on Saturday at sixth-seeded Hidden Valley, which eliminated Molalla, 2-1.

PHS senior Mateo Candanoza sends the ball in toward the 18-yard box in what ended up as the Warriors’ first goal on a shot by junior Favian Aceves. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

The Warriors and Pirates played the first half under a steady rain in chilly conditions. Philomath took an early lead in the 24th minute on a goal by junior Favian Aceves. On the play, senior Mateo Candanoza took a free kick and sent it toward the 18-yard box where Aceves was able to get on it for a shot into the upper portion of the net just below the crossbar.

In the second half with the rain no longer falling, the two teams battled back and forth. Phoenix came at Philomath with a couple of speedsters — primarily senior Daniel Palomino.

“We tried to deal with him all night but it is what it is,” Ellis said. “You know, they’re a good team, they play high pressure, they can really keep the ball and move it.”

Palomino scored the equalizer in the 69th minute as both squads were just getting back to starting strength. The official had sent senior Vinny DeMasi to the sideline with a yellow card after taking down Philomath senior Chase Ringwald. The Warriors’ Candanoza soon got a yellow card of his own when he was whistled for whatever the official saw in a battle for the ball against a Phoenix player.

The Palomino goal snuck into the low right corner of the net.

Favian Aceves watches his shot go into the top of the net for what would be Philomath’s lone goal of the evening. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

“They were slightly more committed in those moments and they really brought pressure on us at moments and we struggled in the face of it,” Ellis said.

The Warriors missed an opportunity in the 73rd minute when senior Seth Arthurs pulled off some fancy footwork to get the ball inside to sophomore Silas Pittman. But Philomath couldn’t finish and the opportunity fizzled. Later in the 78th minute, Candanoza strategically placed the ball on a free kick inside and the Warriors nearly scored in traffic but Phoenix was able to dodge another bullet.

A final chance in regulation occurred in the 79th minute on a strong bicycle kick by Pittman but the ball went straight into the hands of Phoenix’s goalkeeper.

“I thought we created plenty of chances,” Ellis said. “We hit them well and sometimes the ball just doesn’t go in. You need a little bit of luck.”

The two teams headed to two 10-minute overtime periods in an effort to determine the winner (if still tied after the OTs, then the teams would’ve gone to penalty kicks). Phoenix scored in the second minute of the second overtime on a shot by senior Jenner Selden.

PHS senior Chase Ringwald sends the ball downfield in the first half. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

On the play, PHS goalkeeper Teddy Benbow and Selden were both bearing down on the ball. Selden was able to get a foot on it while sliding and the ball slowly rolled toward the net. Philomath’s Ringwald sprinted toward the ball in an effort to make the save but he just couldn’t get there in time.

The Warriors played a frenzied final eight minutes to try to tie the game up again but the Pirates held on.

It’s the third time in the past decade that Philomath and Phoenix had met in the first round of the state playoffs — and all three of the matchups had to be decided beyond regulation. In 2013, Trevor Sartnurak scored in OT to give Philomath a 2-1 victory. Then in 2016, the Pirates pulled off a 2-1 win in a game that came down to PKs.


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.