Coming into Tuesday afternoon's regular-season finale, Philomath senior Jonathan Martinez had scored just two career goals at the varsity level — he recalls one earlier this season and another back during his sophomore year.
Of course, he's not a player that would get a lot of chances at the net because coach Anton Grube relies on Martinez for his defensive skills. But this was going to be the final game on the home field for Martinez and senior teammates Sam Callender and Jayson Kildea.
"On senior night, I always try to get those guys more chances," Grube said. "Jono and Sam and we got Jayson out of the net and in the field."
Martinez took advantage of the offensive opportunity and came away with a hat trick in a 6-0 rout over Yamhill-Carlton. Two other defensive mainstays also played key roles on offense in this one with Callender finishing with two goals and three assists, and sophomore Ben Reams getting a goal.
"I feel like we've played more competitively with better results," Martinez said about the team's recent play. "Communication has helped a lot and just being able to pass it. We had struggles just trying to get balls over people."
Later in the evening, Philomath found out that it had qualified for a Class 4A play-in game on the strength of its OSAA ranking. The Warriors will play at 4 p.m. Saturday at North Bend, the second-place team out of the Far West League.
Martinez scored in the 15th and 22nd minutes, the latter on some nifty footwork close to the net. Junior James Erickson made a pass to Callender in the corner and he dribbled up the back line and got it inside to Martinez for the finish.
Philomath went up 3-0 just before halftime when Reams buried a shot from about 10 yards out in the middle on a set-up from junior Alec Stucki.
The Warriors actually had an opportunity to slip in a fourth goal before the halftime whistle. On an offensive toward the net, junior Shaden Jensen and Yamhill-Carlton's goalkeeper got tangled up and junior Tristan Pindell sent the ball into the net. But the game official waived off the goal apparently because Jensen had been on the keeper.
It didn't matter, however, because the Warriors had the game well in hand. In the second half, Martinez got his third goal in the 49th minute and then Callender followed up with goals of his own in the 59th and 78th minutes. Antoine Feld and Connor Kutzler, another one of those defensive guys, had assists on the last two.
"I think we started communicating a lot more, more passing, looking for other players," junior Parker Ringwald said about the team, which finished 4-2-1 over its last seven games. "We didn't have enough enthusiasm going into some (earlier) games."
Grube said his team has worked toward improving in the areas of footwork and first touch "but the two things we've tried to focus on were communication and defense, not only individually but team shape and how we defense as a unit."
The Warriors tried out some different looks on defense early this season but settled into the core four of Callender, Reams, Martinez and Kutzler at about midseason. Junior Ethan Manning will drop back on occasion when the coach decides to put Callender on the offensive and Pindell is another player that will sub into the back four from time to time.
Philomath found itself in a must-win situation but could've earned the play-in spot a little easier Tuesday night if Cascade had beaten North Marion. The Cougars and Huskies ended up in a 4-4 tie and that result forced a tie for third in the final Oregon West standings between Philomath and North Marion at 4-5-1.
The conference champion, Stayton, received an automatic spot in the state playoffs and Newport had the runner-up spot nailed down to play a play-in game at home. North Marion was awarded third based on its head-to-head record against Philomath. The Huskies beat the Warriors 6-3 and 2-1 this season.
Still, it didn't matter with Philomath getting in as an at-large team based on the OSAA ranking, which ended up at No. 19. In comparison, North Marion was ranked No. 26 and would not have qualified if not for the sweep over the Warriors.
Philomath and North Bend met during the regular season on Sept. 12. Playing on the road, the Warriors played to a scoreless tie against the Bulldogs. North Bend finished with an overall record of 6-1-5.
The Warriors ended up with an overall record of 5-6-3 and the winner of the play-in game will advance to the state playoffs.
Philomath 6, Yamhill-Carlton 0
Tuesday at Philomath
YAMHILL-CARLTON (1-14, 0-10) 0 0 — 0
PHILOMATH (5-6-3, 4-5-1) 3 3 — 6
First half — 1, Philomath, Jonathan Martinez (Sam Callender), 15th minute; 2, Philomath, Jonathan Martinez (Sam Callender), 22nd minute; 3, Philomath, Ben Reams (Alec Stucki), 39th minute.
Second half — 4, Philomath, Jonathan Martinez (Sam Callender), 49th minute; 5, Philomath, Sam Callender (Antoine Feld), 59th minute; 6, Philomath, Sam Callender (Connor Kutzler), 78th minute.
Philomath 3, Yamhill-Carlton 3
Tuesday at Philomath
Team notes: Philomath finished the season with a 4-7-2 record. ... Yamhill-Carlton had only eight players available to play JV, so Philomath loaned the Tigers three players for an 11 vs. 11 competitive match. ... "It was a great game to end the season," JV coach Matt Konkler said. "I'm really happy and proud of the guys and to have the opportunity to coach them."