Warriors senior Elizabeth Morales heads the ball in Tuesday's win over Stayton. Morales finished with two goals. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Since losing two straight 1-0 games in the same week back in late September, Philomath High School’s girls soccer team has reeled off eight straight victories. The Warriors outscored those eight opponents, 45-2, over a stretch of three weeks.

The team hopes to see the trend continue as the Warriors turn their attention to the postseason. Philomath (11-3) earned a bye into the 4A state playoffs as the Oregon West Conference runner-up. Newport actually finished higher in the final OSAA rankings but finished third in the league standings, so the Cubs must try to advance out of a play-in game.

The Warriors should next see action on Nov. 2 at home against an opponent to be determined.

As for the turnaround after those back-to-back losses, head coach Mat Phelps says he witnessed a philosophical change in the players.

“We just kinda had a realization of that’s not who we want to be and that’s not where we want to be, so let’s work hard,” Phelps said. “Practice has been more intense and we have the focus of ‘hey, we have to do this together as a team, not individually.’ And that’s made a difference.”

PHS senior Izabella Nanoski takes a shot in the first half. She later scored the team’s eighth goal to end the game on the mercy rule. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Stayton was the latest victim for the Warriors on Tuesday in the regular-season finale. Philomath scored five goals in the first 26 minutes and went on to an 8-0 victory — the team’s fifth mercy rule win this season.

Seven different players scored for the Warriors with senior Elizabeth Morales netting two — the first serving as an indicator of how the afternoon would unfold. Just a little over three minutes into the contest, Morales finished after receiving a perfect setup pass from junior teammate Bailey Bell.

Freshman Ana Candanoza made it 2-0 in the eighth minute with junior Kamilla Grimmer picking up an assist. Then it was Grimmer scoring herself five minutes later with an assist from Morales. In the 19th minute, senior Makayla Gilmore-Garcia saved the ball from going out of bounds and got it to sophomore Petra Hernandez for the finish.

Warriors junior Bailey Bell makes a pass toward the middle that led to the game’s first goal. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Bell then scored in the 26th minute with an assist to Hernandez for a 5-0 lead — a margin that remained over the final 14 minutes of the half.

In the second half, Philomath made it 6-0 on a goal by senior Mia Cook in the 42nd minute and 7-0 on Morales’s second goal in the 55th minute. Bell had assists on both. The game-ending goal was scored in the 56th minute by senior Izabella Nanoski with an assist to Cook.

Bell, who had one goal and three assists, returned to the lineup a few games back after working through an injury.

“She’s obviously a difference maker out there,” Phelps said. “I think all of the girls are happy to have her back out there.”

PHS junior Kayla Grimmer scores in the 13th minute. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

The Warriors posted their ninth shutout of the season. Senior goalkeeper Hailie Couture had little to do in the victory with Stayton failing to get a shot on goal.

Philomath recognized its seniors prior to the game — Cook, Couture, Gilmore-Garcia, Morales and Nanoski.

“I think all of them did a great job,” Phelps said. “Four of them have been here for four years and they kinda led us on the field but also with ‘this is who we want to be and this is how we’re going to play.’ It’s been really great.”

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.