Standing in front of the net on the east end of Liberty High’s pitch Saturday evening, Philomath’s junior goalkeeper, Teddy Benbow, noticed Hidden Valley senior Theo Bergman staring at the opposite side of the goal.
The Class 4A boys soccer championship game had come down to penalty kicks with the score tied 1-1 through regulation and two 10-minute overtime periods. Philomath’s Mark Grimmer, Mateo Candanoza and Silas Pittman each converted on their attempts and Hidden Valley’s Joaquin Martinez and Caleb Richter were successful on theirs as well.
But Bergman’s shot didn’t go as planned with Benbow diving to his left for the save.
“Just have your mind made up as they’re about to hit it … don’t second-guess yourself,” Benbow said about his strategy, based on advice from former Oregon State goalkeeper Evan Munn, an assistant with PHS this season. “On the first couple of ones, I got frozen which didn’t help, but the boys all made theirs to set me up.”
Chase Ringwald converted with a shot into the upper right side of the goal for a 4-2 advantage. On the next shot, Hidden Valley stayed alive when Ronan Hodge powered the ball in despite Benbow getting a hand on it. And then Benbow himself clinched the win for the Warriors by going lower left.
The official score in the books goes down as 2-1 with the Warriors winning on PKs, 5-3.
Benbow ran 20 yards downfield and went into a celebratory slide just before he was mobbed by teammates in a state championship dogpile.
Grimmer, a senior, had a season for the ages — an incredible run of at least one goal in every Philomath game and 30 in all. For his teammates and those watching, late-game heroics have almost become an expectation — just wait, just wait, Grimmer will find a way to score.
And he did. This time, in the 74th minute by drawing a penalty in the 18-yard box and then converting the kick.
“It’s so amazing — this is my dream ever since I started playing soccer, to come and win a state championship. It’s just, it’s so unreal,” Grimmer said.
Grimmer’s PK in regulation tied the game, 1-1, and neither team could finish in the two OTs. As the two teams lined up for the PKs, Grimmer led off for the Warriors and made his conversion to set the tone.
“I approach them like a free throw in basketball — it’s there for the taking,” he said, “and so it’s just routine.”
Candanoza, Pittman, Ringwald and Benbow followed and the rest is history with the boys soccer program’s second-ever state championship trophy — the first coming in 2012.
In a game that featured several different storylines, the Warriors got a boost earlier in the day when they were getting ready to leave for Hillsboro. Oregon State men’s soccer coach Terry Boss, whose No. 1-ranked Beavers clinched the Pac-12 title two days earlier, spoke to the Warriors before they climbed on the bus.
The 2000 Philomath High grad provided a little inspiration and helped the boys believe in themselves, PHS coach Dave Ellis said. And in addition to Boss, Oregon State’s star player, Sofiane Djeffal, sent a text of support.
After Philomath had won, Boss was on the phone to congratulate the team.
PHS center back exits game
Philomath (17-1) and Hidden Valley (13-5) could not cash in on any of their limited scoring opportunities in the first half. The Mustangs came out of the gate with a physical approach and the Warriors seemed out of sync, likely impacted by senior Dylan Bell’s departure from the lineup in the 15th minute because of an ankle and knee injury.
“It was definitely a little discouraging but we did it in the semifinals, we’ve done it before, we knew we had to keep our heads up,” PHS senior Blaise Pindell said. “We just had to keep pushing ourselves. Just like with Mark scoring in the last minute of the last game, you don’t know what’s going to happen, so you keep pushing until that buzzer goes off.”
Another senior, Noah Aynes, said the Bell injury was a setback but the rest of the team had to come out for the second half with an elevated energy level.
“It was hard for us to come back after losing our starting center back who runs things,” Aynes said. “We just had to really bring it after halftime and just get the energy out in every department.”
Bell actually came back into the game on a couple of occasions but it was obvious that he was limited physically on what he could do. The team missed the senior center back’s skills, of course, but also the intangibles that he brings to the pitch.
“I’m most glad that we won it for Dylan because him having to go off, he would’ve blamed himself,” Ellis said.
As Aynes pointed out, energy was an issue.
“We didn’t have the energy that we should have had in the first half and I think they kind of just settled back — which was their mistake,” Grimmer said. “We knew that if we didn’t go with that energy that they had starting the game, that we had already lost.”
Although Hidden Valley’s physical nature of play provided challenges for Philomath to overcome, the Warriors had seen that type of strategy from Sisters in the Oregon West. Pindell didn’t think the Mustangs were any tougher than the Outlaws.
“We just didn’t play to their physicality, so it made them look way more physical than they actually were,” said Pindell, who moves people around for the Warriors.
Ellis said Hidden Valley came at the Warriors with everything he thought they would — and more. But he also said he was disappointed with how action unfolded on the field in terms of officiating.
“The referee let a lot more go than, I thought, should have been and that handed the advantage to Hidden Valley with their physical style of play,” Ellis said. “And they were out there to beat us up, which is fine, I’m not criticizing their style of play. But by the referee choosing that line, that made it much harder for us. We persevered and at the end of the day, our fitness, I think, won the game.”
Philomath did appear to have the upper hand late in the contest with the Mustangs starting to drop off, Ellis said, a testament to the approach to conditioning implemented by assistant Bill Callender. Munn also drew praise from the head coach for how he helped Benbow prepare and how he helped players get motivated.
Mustangs take a 1-0 lead
Hidden Valley broke the scoreless tie a little more than 4 minutes into the second half on a Mason Klipfel goal from about 8 yards out.
Philomath appeared to play with a sense of urgency after falling behind 1-0.
“We felt panicked … it definitely wasn’t comfortable,” Aynes said. “But you know, it was the same thing in our last game and we put that away so I think we knew we could do it.”
The Warriors thought they had tied the game midway through the second half. On the play, Aynes threw the ball in, which Hidden Valley headed into the direction of junior Seth Arthurs. Arthurs kicked the ball toward the net and it bounced in front of the goalkeeper while Grimmer sprinted in. The ball went into the goal and then hit the inside part of the crossbar after a Hidden Valley player kicked it out.
After a quick meeting, the officials ruled that it was not a goal. Ellis said he believes the assistant referee was out of position and just didn’t see it. The call loomed large at the time but in the end, it didn’t matter.
Grimmer nearly scored in the 52nd minute with an opportunity from about 5 yards but the ball missed to the left. But he later took advantage of the penalty kick chance to tie the game — that occurring 4 minutes after he re-entered the game after being forced off by a yellow card.
Said Grimmer, “I think that having that energy and having that discipline to be able to continue fighting through everything is really what helped us win.”
Philomath had momentum from that point, although Hidden Valley nearly won it in the final few seconds of the second overtime. Junior Cody King came up with a game-saving play in the final seconds of the second overtime when Hidden Valley threatened.
“Cody saved us with like 5 seconds left, sliding in and hurting himself just to keep us in the game so we could make it to PKs and ultimately win the game,” Benbow said.
Pindell believes teamwork played the biggest role in Philomath’s winning of the state title.
“If somebody messes up, you’re told what you need to do to correct it but you’re not scolded,” said Pindell, giving an example. “Once you get told, you improve, and that makes you better as a whole team.”
Coach thinks of last 4 years
Ellis spoke from his heart following the game as he collected his thoughts.
“What’s going through my head is the last four years of being here and all I’ve lost,” he said. “I lost both my parents and a year of my kids in school and everything else and you know, I’m happy for those boys … they lost a year,,” Ellis said. “I’m happy for all the players that I’ve coached before that didn’t get this respect.”
Ellis mentioned names of top players from his past teams that meant a lot to the program — many of them in Hillsboro Saturday to watch the Warriors.
“The little part I played in it — I’m happy I could do it for the boys who are here and for the boys who aren’t here,” he added. “It’s a profound moment.”
Ellis took over as Philomath High’s head coach in 2018 with a freshman class that included Grimmer, Bell, Aynes and Pindell. Grimmer immediately showed the type of skills that would lead to great things and Aynes showed that he could contribute at a varsity level.
They all improved through high school with Bell and Pindell taking the biggest leaps on what they could accomplish on the pitch.
“Dylan was difficult and he had to work out some issues and he’s grown up to be an amazing young man,” Ellis said. “Blaise couldn’t even go through a speed ladder without falling down and how far that boy has come is amazing. … He is going to be one of the hardest of the four to replace because he’s just so physically dominant.”
Benbow, who had four saves, was named Philomath’s Moda Health Player of the Game and presumably will be a top candidate for 4A’s goalkeeper of the year. And Ellis believes Grimmer should be a shoo-in for 4A player of the year.
A member of the Oregon West Conference has now won the state title in every OSAA tournament since 2016 with Newport victories in 2016 and 2017, followed by Woodburn championships in 2018 and 2019. Stayton took the non-sanctioned 4A Showcase title in 2020.
Sisters won state titles in 2013 and 2015 but were members of the Sky-Em League at the time. The last time a current or former member of the OWC did not win came back in 2011 with Molalla’s 1-0 victory over Phoenix. Stayton and Philomath lost in the semifinals that year.
Liberty High’s pitch was also the site of Philomath’s first boys soccer state title. On Nov. 17, 2012, the Warriors beat La Salle Prep, 2-1, in double overtime on goals on Matt St. Clair with both set up on free kicks — one in the 69th minute by William Karlsson and the other in the 92nd minute by Stephen Coskey. PHS keeper Ben Michaud had four saves against 13 shots on goal in that one.
Philomath 2, Hidden Valley 1
Saturday, Nov. 13, at Liberty HS, Hillsboro
|Hidden Valley (13-5)||0||1||0||0||0||1|
|First Half: None.|
Second Half: 1, Hidden Valley, Mason Klipfel (Aston Marchington), 45th minute; 2, Philomath, Mark Grimmer (PK), 74th minute.
First Overtime: None.
Second Overtime: None.
Penalty Kicks: Philomath 5 (Grimmer, Mateo Candanoza, Silas Pittman, Chase Ringwald, Teddy Benbow); Hidden Valley 3 (Joaquin Martinez, Caleb Richter, Ronan Hodge).
Yellow Cards: Tristen Winkler (HV), 48th minute; Grimmer (PHS), 68th minute; Klipfel (HV), 68th minute; Aiden Fiske (HV), 80th minute.
Referee: Alejandro Roble. Assistant Referees: James DeBoer, Mohammed Shakibnia.
Hidden Valley: Spencer Fiske, Tristen Winkler, Caleb Richter, Theo Bergman, Mason Klipfel, Luke Matthew, Justyn Ingram, Ronan Hodge, Aiden Fiske, Joaquin Martinez, JoJo Saunders. (Substitutes: Aston Marchington, Diego Sanchez).
Philomath: Teddy Benbow, Mark Grimmer, Dylan Bell, Chase Ringwald, Cody King, Mateo Candanoza, Seth Arthurs, Blaise Pindell, Ben Hernandez, Silas Pittman, Noah Aynes. (Substitutes: Favian Aceves, Austin Hunsaker, Lukus Dunn, Nixon Mooney, Ian Alba).
Class 4A State Playoffs
Wednesday, Nov. 3
(16) Ontario 1, Stayton 0 (PK 5-3)
(9) Hidden Valley 3, (8) Marshfield 1
(12) Molalla 3, (5) Valley Catholic 0
(4) Henley 4, (13) Tillamook 0
(3) Phoenix 7, (14) La Grande 0
(6) North Marion 3, (11) Sisters 2
(7) McLoughlin 2, (10) Cottage Grove 0
(2) Philomath 5, (15) Estacada 0
Friday, Nov. 5-Saturday, Nov. 6
Hidden Valley 1, Ontario 0 (OT)
Molalla 5, Henley 3 (OT)
North Marion 1, Phoenix 0 (PK 4-3)
Philomath 1, McLoughlin 0
Tuesday, Nov. 9
Hidden Valley 4, Molalla 3
Philomath 2, North Marion 1 (OT)
Saturday, Nov. 13
At Liberty HS, Hillsboro
Philomath 2, Hidden Valley 1 (PK 5-3)
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