Braedyn McNeely
PHS senior Braedyn McNeely works the ball against Stayton on Saturday. McNeely scored one of the team’s two goals. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

CORVALLIS — In a showdown between Oregon West Conference girls soccer rivals, Philomath High outlasted Stayton 2-1 Saturday afternoon on Crescent Valley’s turf field.

Freshman Kamilla Grimmer scored in the game’s 32nd minute and senior Braedyn McNeely found the net in the 45th just a couple of minutes after Stayton had tied the game.

“It was really important … Braedyn put a good foot on it,” senior Alivia Pittman said about McNeely’s goal, which she set up with a cross to the middle from the left side. “As our toughest competition, they’re the ones to beat to win league. This win was very good for us.”

Coach Mat Phelps said there are statistics about when goals are scored — the beginning and end of halves and games, and after a team scored.

“Just recognizing that it’s part of the game and playing hard is really important,” Phelps said. “The girls did that and we talked about being a little more creative, a little more dynamic with our attack.”

Philomath took a 1-0 lead with 8 minutes remaining in the first half on Grimmer’s goal with an assist going to freshman Bailey Bell.

“She turned well and put it right into the corner,” Pittman said.

Kaili Saathoff
Philomath senior Kaili Saathoff attempts a shot on Saturday against Stayton. The ball sailed wide left. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Stayton came out strong in the second half and junior Tori Nyquist found the net on a shot from roughly 30 yards out in the 43rd minute.

“We had a lapse where we lost the ball in possession when we shouldn’t have and they made a really long outside shot,” Phelps said. “Outside of that, we didn’t give up many chances in the second half and we found feet better with our possession and with our attack.

“We had a lot of opportunities but our finishing was lacking so we’re going to work on that,” he added.

McNeely’s goal followed 2 minutes later and the two teams battled back and forth the rest of the way with no further scoring. Philomath controlled the game for the most part, which is reflected on the final stat sheet with the Warriors taking 17 shots on goal compared to Stayton’s three.

Sophomore keeper Hailie Couture said Philomath played its best soccer in the second half.

“I think we played better as a team in the second half,” Couture said. “In the first half we had a lot of good shots, so that was pretty good, but they put up a good fight.”

Couture’s parents were among those in the stands at the game. With Benton County’s COVID risk dropping from extreme to high the previous Friday, the high school enacted a plan to allow two people per player into the game.

“That was very nice having them cheer us on the whole time,’ Couture said.

Alivia Pittman
Warriors senior Alivia Pittman pushes the ball toward the Stayton net. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Philomath and Stayton have played very close games in recent years. Heading into Saturday’s game, the teams were 1-1-2 over the past two seasons against each other.

“They’re always a great challenge for our team,” Pittman said. “I love playing these guys; they put up a great fight and always give us a good challenge.”

Philomath (2-1) hits the road for the first time this season on Tuesday with a trip to Cascade.

Philomath 2, Stayton 1
Saturday at Crescent Valley HS, Corvallis
Stayton (1-1)011
Philomath (2-1)112
First Half: 1, Philomath, Kamilla Grimmer (Bailey Bell), 32nd minute.
Second Half: 2, Stayton, Tori Nyquist, 43rd minute; 3, Philomath, Braedyn McNeely (Alivia Pittman), 45th minute.