PHS senior Mateo Candanoza plans his attack while squaring off against Cottage Grove goalkeeper Hayes Valley in the second half. Candanoza would score seconds later. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

With the clock ticking down below 10 minutes to play on Tuesday afternoon, a scoreless tie in Philomath High’s boys soccer home opener started to seem like a real possibility. The Warriors had been unable to cash in on a number of offensive opportunities earlier in the game and were running out of time.

As had been the case during last season’s run to the state title, Philomath’s boys have turned late-game heroics into an art form. But with the high-scoring Mark Grimmer out of the picture, could this version of the Warriors continue the trend?

Senior Mateo Candanoza provided a solid answer by scoring in the 73rd minute — and the degree of difficulty to get the ball past Cottage Grove’s lengthy goalkeeper was steep. Candanoza took the ball from senior Brody Bushnell on a throw-in, dribbled in from the right side and shot hard and low into the net.

Philomath’s Mateo Candanoza and Cottage Grove goalkeeper Hayes Valley watch the ball go into the net for the game’s only goal on Tuesday in a 1-0 victory over Cottage Grove. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

“Mateo showed a little bit of composure there … no way he should score from that angle,” Ellis said after the 1-0 victory. “The keeper should’ve been able to cut that down but we had watched the keeper and we told them that with a big, tall keeper, the holes are down low and so you’ve just got to get in and play it hard and low on the ground. And finally we did it.”

Philomath had the advantage when it came to scoring opportunities but shots went wide, high or right at the goalkeeper. On the other end, PHS senior Teddy Benbow got in some work but faced no intense attack.

“Really, tactically we had them figured out, we knew what they were going to do and we defended them very well,” Ellis said. “I don’t think they really had any dangerous moments. … Teddy caught the ball on the line but I wouldn’t call anything that he did a save, especially a Teddy-level save, let’s put it that way.”

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The Warriors have not allowed a goal yet this season in two games.

Offensively, Philomath missed on a high-percentage opportunity in the 64th minute when senior Seth Arthurs set up Candanoza for a blank-point shot in the middle of the box. But the kick went right into the hands of the keeper.

“In the final third, we were soft and hesitant and we lacked impetus,” Ellis said. “We just weren’t putting goals away, you know what I mean? Finally, as we always do with Bill Callender’s fitness coaching, that was the difference in the game at the end. We just kept going and kept going and they finally tired.”

PHS senior Seth Arthurs leaps into the air to bring the ball under control. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Cottage Grove, playing its season opener, also started losing starters with three helped off the field in the second half.

The Warriors (2-0) are not scheduled to play again until Sept. 15 in a home game against Estacada. Then the team gets into league play with a Sept. 22 trip to Cascade.

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.