PHS senior Bailey Bell scores on a header in the 10th minute after taking a cross from junior Isabel Morales-Marquez. The Warriors won on the mercy rule, 8-0. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Following a dominating performance against Stayton in the first half Thursday that added up to a 7-0 lead, Philomath High’s girls soccer players had every reason to believe that they were well on their way to a fifth mercy-rule victory of the season.

The outcome was not in doubt. The Warriors were playing against an overmatched team in rebuild mode. And the opponent never threatened to score with Philomath goalkeeper Heidi Bacho touching the ball maybe twice all afternoon.

Still, there was a little drama as Philomath came out for the second half. Coach Mat Phelps was mixing up the lineup a little and that included bringing junior Melea Lattin up from a defender position to give her chances to score.

Wearing No. 19, Lattin had an opportunity 3:31 into the half and shot toward the top half of the net but Stayton’s keeper went high to slap it away. Thirty seconds later, senior Bailey Bell sent a corner kick into the middle and Lattin nearly scored on a header. Every time she possessed the ball or had a good look, teammates shouted words of encouragement.

Finally in the 46th minute, senior Isabelle Dory took a hard shot at close range that Stayton’s keeper couldn’t handle. Senior teammate Eevi Rolfe reacted on the rebound and finished to give Philomath an 8-0 victory.

PHS junior Melea Lattin moves the ball during Thursday’s win over Stayton. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

“We really value each other, everybody means everything to us,” Rolfe said. “And we like to set each other up for success.”

Rolfe was another example of a PHS player who changed positions for scoring chances.

“She’s gotten a lot of minutes at outside mid but not at center forward when you’re in more of a goal-scoring position,” Phelps said. “And then we had Melea Lattin up there and she normally plays center back. We wanted to play good soccer but we also wanted to give those girls that work so hard on defense a chance to get a goal.”

The goal was Rolfe’s second of the season. She also found the net a month ago in an 8-0 blowout over Cottage Grove.

“I normally play wing so I’m crossing the balls instead but it felt good to score,” she said.

PHS senior Isabelle Dory kicks the ball during the team’s 8-0 win against Stayton. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

The game’s outcome was far removed from some of the intense meetings between the two schools that were seen from 2017-21. The Warriors do have a 14-1-3 record against the Eagles over the past decade but 10 of those games were decided by two goals or less.

“We had a good rivalry for four or five years and hopefully they’re going to be able to build that back up,” Phelps said. “I think it’s good for our league as well.”

Philomath scored five goals during a seven-minute stretch in the first half. Junior Sophia Bauer (seventh minute), senior Kamilla Grimmer (ninth minute), Bell (11th minute), junior Petra Hernandez (12th minute) and junior Madyx Mooney (13th minute) all found the net during the scoring outburst. Bell, junior Isabel Morales-Marquez, Grimmer and Bauer had assists.

The Warriors’ sixth goal came in the 22nd minute by sophomore Jessica McLennan with an assist by Rolfe. In the 34th, Bell scored from Grimmer for the 7-0 lead.

Warriors senior Eevi Rolfe works the ball against the Eagles. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

“We talk about weeks like this when we have these 8-0 wins and that we’ve got to have the right mentality in practice and in the game,” Phelps said. “We can’t go easy or think about the record of the team we’re playing against or anything like that. We just have to go out and play our best game every time.”

Rolfe said the Warriors can never let up against any opponent.

“I know that we go against really tough teams like Marist and North Marion so we’re going to have to work really hard during practice and use these games as opportunities to better ourselves and not just play like it doesn’t matter,” Rolfe said. “Because all these games matter.”

The win gives Philomath a 4-1 record on its first trip through the Oregon West. The league title appears as though it will come down to an Oct. 17 game against North Marion unless one of the two teams slip up along the way. The Aurora school edged the Warriors, 2-1, on Sept. 28.

Up next for the Warriors (7-2 overall) will be a Tuesday game at home Tuesday against Cascade. Philomath beat the Cougars, 5-0, on the road on Sept. 21.

Stayton dropped to 1-9 overall, 0-5 in league play with the loss.

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.