Philomath's Silas Pittman gets ready to take a penalty kick while a game official points for players behind him to back up during Thursday's 3-1 loss to North Marion. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Stepping into a starting position in net for Philomath High’s boys soccer team this season, goalkeeper Jake McGaughy wasn’t about to come out of the game.

Visiting North Marion had a 1-0 lead Thursday afternoon as the final few minutes of the first half ticked away. About a minute before the break, Huskies senior Adrian Vallejo Lopez collided with McGaughy while playing for the ball. The PHS keeper got “dead-legged” — his leg went numb after suffering a direct hit on his knee — and stayed on the ground for several minutes taking cues from a trainer.

McGaughy remained in the game, although he played in net with a limp during the second half.

“Once the second half started when I was not moving as fast, I could see they adapted with what they were doing and how they were attacking us at that end,” McGaughy said following the 3-1 loss.

North Marion struck fast with a goal 90 seconds into the second half and then went up by three in the game’s 56th minute.

“They were good at passing the ball through and getting the ball to where they wanted it to go,” McGaughy said. “They had a lot of fast players.”

Philomath High’s trainer works with Jake McGaughy went he went down near the end of the first half. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

A player familiar to the Warriors, senior Aden Carrillo, was the main culprit by scoring both of his team’s second-half goals.

“We knew about Aden … he was phenomenal two years ago when we played them in the semifinal,” Warriors coach Dave Ellis said. “He’s phenomenal now and we just didn’t do what we should have done.”

Down 3-0, the Warriors got on the scoreboard in the 61st minute when Silas Pittman drew a foul and buried a penalty kick. Philomath had other opportunities, including a precision pass in the 74th minute from Pittman into traffic with senior teammate Owen Thomas positioned in the middle. Thomas missed a header by inches and the Huskies escaped unharmed.

“If we had done a couple of simple things to prevent two two goals and a couple of simple things to make two goals, it’s a much different game,” Ellis said. “I thought this was a drop in performance from Tuesday but we have a small roster.”

Senior Austin Hunsaker moves the ball up the left sideline while coach Dave Ellis looks on. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Philomath came into the game after a very physical match two days earlier at Newport.

“Some people are still hurting a little bit after the last game but we came out and did what we could do,” McGaughy said. “It’s difficult but we get used to it, we’ve done it before and we’ll do it more.”

The Warriors have lost five of their first six games but are ranked by the OSAA ahead of Sweet Home and Cascade. The week’s results against highly-ranked Newport and North Marion hint of continued progress.

McGaughy said one of the team’s goals would be to reach the postseason but in addition, the program is just intent on getting better each time out.

“We’re a young team, we haven’t worked with each other a lot,” he said. “So it’s just getting small stuff — knowing where each other is going to be, knowing what we’re going to do next. That was the team last year; I mean, they knew what was happening and what we were going to do.”

Senior Favian Aceves heads the ball against the Huskies. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

With the strength of the Oregon West this season — Newport, Stayton and North Marion are currently at No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4, respectively, in the OSAA rankings — it will be a big challenge for the Warriors to position themselves for a run at the postseason. Twelve teams automatically qualify for the playoffs and eight others will meet in play-in games to try to reach the bracket. Philomath is currently No. 24 in the OSAA rankings but the season is still young with a lot of soccer remaining.

The Warriors will re-energize over the weekend and get ready for a Tuesday game at home against Sweet Home. The Huskies come in with a similar record to Philomath at 1-5-1 overall.

“Hopefully, we can get a win against Sweet Home and then we’ll go against Stayton (Oct. 5), which should be a really good game,” Ellis said. “Stayton tied North Marion, which also tied Newport, so the top three are pretty flat.”

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.