Philomath junior Sophia Bauer shakes off Newport sophomore Jackie Ramirez for a shot in the second half. (Photo by Andy Cripe/Philomath News)

Philomath High’s girls soccer team passed its first test of the week Tuesday afternoon with a 4-1 victory on its home pitch over a capable group from Newport. The Warriors will now turn their attention to North Marion in a Thursday showdown on the Aurora-area campus between the only remaining unbeatens in the Oregon West Conference.

“I expect a physical, low-scoring game — it’s going to be a battle to get anything you can get,” PHS coach Mat Phelps said following the three-goal win over the Cubs.

PHS junior Sophia Bauer, who had a goal in an assist vs. Newport, said the team will be ready with a history of working hard in practice.

“We work a lot on possession and we also just work a lot on our offense as well as our combo plays,” Bauer said. “I think those are pretty good when we play pretty hard teams — just our one-touch passing and our different creative runs. I think those really help us get more in the net and help us work more together.”

Philomath shell-shocked Newport early in Tuesday’s match with a goal just 50 seconds into the contest. Senior Kamilla Grimmer shot one home with an assist credited to Bauer. Then in the 15th minute, Grimmer drove deep into the box and made a pass up top to senior Bailey Bell, who delivered on a mid-net shot to make it 2-0.

Philomath held on to the two-goal advantage through the rest of the first half. There had been other scoring opportunities, such as a follow-up shot off a corner kick in the 17th minute that required a diving stop by Newport’s goalkeeper. Other shot attempts were either just off the mark or into the goalkeeper’s hands.

“We expected them to be a tough opponent in league and I think we showed our depth and just strength from every position on the field,” Phelps said.

Philomath junior Petra Hernandez holds up while Newport junior goalkeeper Breanna Sanders covers up the ball. (Photo by Andy Cripe/Philomath News)

The Cubs (2-3-1 overall, 0-2 Oregon West) were coming off a 6-0 loss at North Marion after wins of 7-1 over Marshfield and 3-2 over North Bend.

“They know us well and they come out hard when they play us and they’re a quality team as well,” Phelps said. “So I was happy that we battled and got a good result.”

After the break, Bauer scored in the 46th minute to give the Warriors a 3-0 lead — not only a considerable advantage on the scoreboard but to gain the upper hand mentally.

“Honestly, I was shocked it went in,” Bauer said. “I’m very happy it went in but Bailey just sent that perfect ball through and I happened to get a foot on it.”

Newport senior Layla Newell scored eight minutes later to pull the Cubs back to within 3-1. The Warriors came close to scoring in the 65th minute with sophomore Maggie King burying one in the net. But it didn’t count because seconds earlier on a quick sequence, the ball had actually gone out of bounds close to the net with junior Petra Hernandez trying to work inside. Later in the 66th minute, junior Isabel Morales-Marquez put some strength on a shot that hit the goalkeeper and still almost trickled in.

Just two minutes later, Hernandez scored on a header on a corner kick put into play by Bell.

Philomath sophomore Maggie King and Newport junior Blair Thompson battle for the ball. (Photo by Andy Cripe/Philomath News)

With those other chances to score, there was the sense that the girls left a few goals out on the field.

“I think that’s a testament to the high standards that we hold ourselves to and that the girls hold themselves to,” Phelps said. “They’re never satisfied, they always think, ‘hey, we can do better.’”

Bauer thinks the team works very well together in the heat of battle.

“I think we played really well up top and our communication has just gotten way better,” Bauer said. “We have pretty good team morale compared to some of the other teams that are pretty down on each other … we just lift each other up, like no matter what, and we’re really supportive of each other.”

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.