Brody Bushnell and Seth Arthurs celebrate Philomath's first goal during Thursday's 3-0 victory over Estacada. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

More than a week had passed since the Philomath High boys had seen competition when the Warriors hosted against Estacada on Thursday afternoon. The Warriors pulled out a 1-0 victory over Cottage Grove back on Sept. 6 on a goal in the 73rd minute.

Seth Arthurs, who scored twice in Philomath 3-0 victory over Estacada, said the Warriors didn’t coast through the nine-day break from live game action. The team put the time to good use.

“We’ve been working really hard since the last game because we weren’t happy with our performance,” Arthurs said. “We knew we should’ve gotten a lot more goals against Cottage Grove so we’ve been working hard on finishing and getting our fitness level up to where we were at last year.”

Philomath, the defending Class 4A state champions, improved to 3-0 with a third straight shutout to start the season. Heading into Thursday’s game, Estacada appeared to have the potential to be the Warriors’ toughest test to date. The Rangers had defeated Scappoose, Astoria and La Grande by a combined 8-1.

Arthurs said the team knows it’s playing with a target on their backs following last year’s success.

“After the Cottage Grove game, we realized that we’re not the team we were last year,” Arthurs said. “We can’t just expect them to hand us the state title; we’re going to have to work for it if we want it again.”

PHS senior Brody Bushnell crosses the ball toward Seth Arthurs for the team’s first goal. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

The two teams battled back and forth in the early going but Philomath quickly gained the upper hand in the ninth minute. Senior Brody Bushnell worked the ball off the corner and set up Arthurs for the goal.

“Brody just hit a really nice cross into me, just an easy tap-in goal, it was a very nice setup,” Arthurs said. “I was just in the right spot.”

In the 30th minute, Arthurs scored on a header from about 15 yards out.

“I saw the ball bouncing from Mateo (Candanoza) and I was making the run and told him to pass it up and he played it perfectly right where I could head it over the keeper,” Arthurs said.

PHS senior Chase Ringwald battles Estacada’s Jose Gonzalez for the ball. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Arthurs was making his first start at the left attacking midfielder position.

“It gives me chances to score but I don’t set up the attack as much as I used to,” Arthurs said. “I like setting up the attack and finding passes out but I also like how I can create deadly threats on the outside.”

In the second half, Philomath added a third goal. Candanoza drew a foul in the penalty box and teammate Chase Ringwald took the PK.

The Warriors will play their Oregon West Conference opener on Sept. 22 with a trip to Cascade.

Brad Fuqua, Philomath News

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.