One down, one to go.
Over a three-day stretch in late September, the Philomath High girls soccer team suffered back-to-back 1-0 losses to Newport and North Marion. The Warriors needed to refocus to put together momentum for the final month and that’s exactly what happened with victories over Sweet Home, Stayton and Cascade.
Newport (8-2-1 overall, 4-2-1 Oregon West) came to town on Thursday with Philomath itching for a little payback. After leading just 1-0 at halftime, the Warriors steamrolled the visitors in the second half to end up with a 6-0 win. This coming Tuesday, Philomath will go up against league leader North Marion with hopes of adding another notch in the win column.
A collection of photos from Philomath High’s 5-0 girls soccer win over Newport on Thursday.
“I think that this one against Newport is going to be one of our big motivations and will help us when we go into North Marion,” PHS senior Mia Cook said. “Knowing that we can beat this team means that we can just have it in our mind that we’re good and we can beat that team, too.”
Philomath (7-3, 5-2) obviously has exceptional skills on the soccer field. Cook points to the mental part of the game that can make a real difference in the final outcome.
“We’ve been working on that in practice, talking positively to each other,” Cook said. “Like, if we make a mistake, just keep your head up and keep going. So we improved a lot during this game with our mindset.”
Head coach Mat Phelps sees it, too. When asked what the difference was between the 1-0 loss to the Cubs on Sept. 27 and the 6-0 win on Thursday, he said the team just realized that they were not where they wanted to be.
“They chose to be motivated rather than just settle for where they’re at,” Phelps said. “We’ve been practicing hard and they have goals and they haven’t met them yet, so that’s where they’re going.”
The game could’ve gone in a different direction if Newport had converted on a shot opportunity in the game’s second minute. Sophomore Mia Martinez got a good look from about 10 yards away from the ball missed wide right. Sophomore Sasha Moran also had an opportunity in the sixth minute but was stopped by PHS goalkeeper Hailie Couture. And a minute later, sophomore Brisa Aguilar tried to slip one in high but the ball sailed beyond the crossbar. Martinez then nearly scored in the 10th minute but Couture beat her to the ball at the last possible second.
But Philomath survived those early threats and didn’t allow too many opportunities the rest of the way for the visitor’s offense. Meanwhile, the Warriors put together quite a few threats of their own.
In the 10th minute, Cook got the ball out wide at midfield to junior Kamilla Grimmer, who dribbled down the right sideline, made a move toward the box and gave Philomath a 1-0 lead with a goal from six yards.
The Warriors had several other chances over the rest of the half. Cook, Petra Hernandez, Kateri Pindell and Sophia Bauer all had opportunities. Newport had limited looks at the net over the rest of the half — the best chance coming on a direct kick by Aguilar that was stopped by Couture.
In the second half, Philomath simply dominated. Freshman Ana Candanoza scored in the 45th minute with an assist to Morales. A little over one minute later, Grimmer found the net with an assist to senior Izabella Nanoski.
Just like that, the Warriors had seemingly put the game out of reach for the Cubs.
“Newport’s a good team, they’re not a slouch team, but the confidence kept building as we played,” Phelps said.
In the 68th minute, Grimmer had a penalty kick opportunity but the shot missed high. But the situation was soon forgotten with Hernandez beating the keeper 1-on-1 in the 71st minute with an assist to sophomore Isabel Morales.
Philomath scored two more goals in the final two minutes of the game. In the 79th minute, Grimmer took a throw-in from Nanoski and set up Elizabeth Morales, who buried the shot for a 5-0 lead. A minute later, Grimmer scored her third goal with an assist to Cook.
One of Philomath’s more noticeable performances in the win could be seen in the aggressive play of Nanoski.
“Bella played amazing — she stops the ball, she won a lot of balls and then she started the attack when she won those balls,” Phelps said. “I was really proud of the way she played.”
It served as an example of what coaches wanted the team to do against the Cubs.
“We talked about it in practice this week about really being the aggressors and tackling and winning the balls instead of laying off those,” Phelps said.
Philomath’s Oct. 18 game at North Marion (8-1-1, 6-9-1) is scheduled for a 4 p.m. start. But first, the Warriors will step out of the conference for a game on Saturday at Junction City (1-10-1). The contest will have an early start of 10 a.m., which was necessary based on the availability of officials.
Following the tilt against the Huskies, Philomath will wrap up the regular season with an Oct. 20 jaunt to Sweet Home and an Oct. 25 home game against Stayton.