Elizabeth Morales
Philomath High’s Elizabeth Morales scores on this shot in the first half, which turned out to be the only goal of the game in the Warriors’ 1-0 win over defending 4A champion Woodburn on Saturday. (Photo by Logan Hannigan-Downs/Philomath News)

CORVALLIS — Philomath High’s defense would not bend and combined with a screamer into the net off the foot of Elizabeth Morales, the Warriors defeated defending state champion Woodburn on Saturday afternoon, 1-0, on the field at Crescent Valley.

The win should issue a message to the rest of Class 4A.

“I think it’s the statement that we’ve been wanting to have the opportunity to send that we feel we’re one of the best teams in the state,” PHS coach Mat Phelps said. “Obviously, they’re the defending state champions and we’ve battled them in league the last couple of years and even though they’re not playing the same schedule as us this year, it is great to play that competition and it means a lot.”

Philomath played hard from the opening whistle and had opportunities in the first three minutes off corner kicks. Senior Alivia Pittman also had a few chances but the game remained scoreless.

Woodburn freshman Elizabeth Valdez Vasquez nearly scored in the 12th minute on a setup from sophomore Crystal Garcia but she missed wide right and the Warriors dodged a bullet.

Three minutes later in the 15th minute, senior Mia Rust sent the ball downfield where it was picked up by Morales. The Philomath sophomore kept possession of the ball with a few moves past a defender and got off a shot from 25 yards that hit in the upper right corner of the net.

“I thought it was going to go out,” Morales said. “I was very surprised.”

About five minutes later, Philomath had another good scoring opportunity on a ball from Pittman to senior Kaili Saathoff in the middle but the shot went right to Woodburn’s keeper.

Reese Grube
Philomath’s Reese Grube had several key defensive plays in Saturday afternoon’s win over Woodburn. (Photo by Logan Hannigan-Downs/Philomath News)

Philomath’s defense stepped up to Woodburn’s challenges the rest of the half. Junior Reese Grube, in particular, had several plays when she cleared to disrupt Bulldog offensives.

“It was kind of stressful because we definitely did not want to let any in but I feel like our back line plays really well together and we stayed strong the whole match,” Grube said. “It’s important that when we win the ball, we keep the ball, because if not, we’re just going to be playing keep-away the whole time.”

Woodburn did create a scoring opportunity in the 39th minute on a ball from freshman Hadassah Nava to senior Yahaira Rodriguez. Philomath’s keeper, sophomore Hailie Couture, was drawn out of position and Rodriguez attempted to lob the ball over her head and into the net but the shot missed.

“We talked a lot about our organization and we had a plan coming in and the girls really worked hard and executed that,” Phelps said about Philomath’s defensive play. “It was a complete team effort — we defended together instead of individually and that makes a difference.”

In the second half, another Pittman-to-Saathoff opportunity occurred in the 45th minute over the middle and Woodburn keeper Litzy Gonzalez made a diving save. Saathoff, Morales and Pittman had decent chances later in the half but Woodburn held to keep the score at 1-0.

“We would’ve loved to have had a couple of more goals; we felt like we had some great chances,” Phelps said. “We just didn’t quite get another one in but they’re working hard and we’re getting more dynamic as the year goes on.”

Woodburn’s chances in the second were limited. Junior Myranda Marquez had a shot in the 69th minute that missed.

Grube said it was a great victory.

“This was kind of our big game that we’ve all been leading up to and working hard for and we had a really hard game on Tuesday against Sisters, but I think we really wanted it and played really well together.”

Hailie Couture
Warriors goalkeeper Hailie Couture secures the ball during Saturday’s’ shutout win over Woodburn. (Photo by Logan Hannigan-Downs/Philomath News)

Morales said the team just continues to improve.

“We accomplished working as a team to get this win,” Morales said. “I think we’re getting better each day, every practice and every game. We take the mistakes that we make in games, put them in practices and then show it (improvement) in our next game.”

Philomath (6-1) has won six straight games and remains unbeaten against 4A opponents. The team plays Tuesday for a key rematch against Stayton before coming back to CV to face Cascade on April 3.

The Warriors are trying to secure one of eight spots in a state tournament is being planned by 4A athletic directors.

Philomath 1, Woodburn 0
Saturday, March 27, at Crescent Valley HS, Corvallis
Woodburn (4-2-2)000
Philomath (6-1)101
First Half: 1, Philomath, Elizabeth Morales (Mia Rust), 15th minute.

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