Nobody saw the shot coming. Not his teammates, not his coach, not the media and certainly not Newport.
Philomath junior Nathaniel Workman chipped a shot over Newport's goalkeeper and into the net Wednesday afternoon to give his team a 3-2 lead with 10 minutes remaining. And although the defending state champion Cubs came back to salvage a 3-3, the Warriors still see the outcome as another indication that the team is showing improvement during the season's stretch run.
"I feel going into next week with North Marion and Cascade, we're pumped up after this 3-3 tie and should be able to take it to them pretty easily," PHS senior and co-captain Sam Callender said. "I feel like our 'want to win' is definitely there after the preseason and some losses that we definitely shouldn't have had."
PHS coach Anton Grube believes his team is getting better every day despite the battle against nagging injuries and illnesses.
"I think we've got a couple of opponents that are both teams that if we play well, we can beat," Grube said about the upcoming games against the Huskies and Cougars. "But it's not going to be easy. It's a tough league and both games are going to be very difficult, so we're going to have to play with this level of intensity to hopefully get a couple of wins."
Philomath went to 2-4-1 in the conference with the tie with hopes of staying in contention for third place, which would guarantee a play-in game. The Warriors are sitting in fifth with Cascade and North Marion a half-game ahead of them in the standings. Wins in those games would boost PHS up to third.
Newport took an early 1-0 lead in Wednesday's game on a Jose Gonzalez goal in the ninth minute. The two teams battled back and forth the rest of the half although the Cubs were getting more offensive chances.
In the second half, the Cubs went up 2-0 on a Ricardo Gonazlez-Vasquez goal off a penalty kick.
But then, Philomath unleashed a scoring barrage with three goals over a six-minute span to take the lead. Antoine Feld got it started when he scored on a set-up from Callender in the 64th minute.
Callender's positioning on the field worked well for the Warriors.
"Sam was moving back and forth throughout the game from a center-defensive position to a center-midfield position and I gave him the ability to do that a little more freely in this game based on his fitness and how he's feeling," Grube said. "He's been nursing a leg injury but he was able to step into the center-mid position and kind of spark the second-half scoring there."
Feld received the ball with plenty of time to plan his shot.
"Sam had a great ball into Antoine over the top and Antoine had a great first touch, settled down and got his composure and finished," Grube said.
Philomath tied the score four minutes later when Callender scored unassisted. On the play, he took a shot and then followed up and scored on a rebound off the goalkeeper.
"Today's conditions were certainly open to that where it's hard for goalkeepers to collect the ball with it being a little bit wet and it's skipping," Grube said. "So really, today was a day when you want to follow every shot because it's hard to collect the ball."
Workman's goal occurred just a couple of minutes later. Junior Connor Kutzler threw in the ball, junior Alec Stucki had a few touches and got it over to Workman.
"Nathan was right there ... he didn't hesitate and struck it with his right foot and caught everybody off-guard," Grube said.
Newport came back with a pretty challenging offensive over the remaining minutes of the game. The Cubs just missed scoring in the 74th minute when a Gonzalez attempt bounced off the crossbar. But a few minutes later, Ronan Krutzikowsky finished to tie the score.
It was the latest example of a pretty competitive soccer rivalry between the Warriors and Cubs.
"Our first game was 3 to 4; it was a really tight game," Callender said. "They got a penalty that may not have been a good call, but over the past three years I've played, we've been right with them."
Philomath has been in the habit of fighting from behind this season.
"Usually, we're a second-half team," Callender said. "We come out in the first half maybe with a goal or two. But we dig that hole and then we try to figure things out in the second half. We stuck with it and got our intensity up and played really well in the second half."
Newport fell to 8-2-1 overall, 5-1-1 in conference play. The Cubs are in second behind frontrunner Stayton.
Philomath plays Tuesday at North Marion, Thursday at Cascade and ends the regular season Oct. 24 at home against Yamhill-Carlton.
Philomath 3, Newport 3
Wednesday at Philomath
NEWPORT (8-2-1, 5-1-1) 1 2 — 3
PHILOMATH (3-5-3, 2-4-1) 0 3 — 3
First half — 1, Newport, Jose Gonzalez, 9th minute.
Second half — 2, Newport, Ricardo Gonzalez-Vasquez (PK), 57th minute; 3, Philomath, Antoine Feld (Sam Callender), 64th minute; 4, Philomath, Sam Callender, 68th minute; 5, Philomath, Nathaniel Workman (Alec Stucki), 70th minute; 6, Newport, Ronan Krutzikowsky (Jose Gonzalez), 76th minute.
Newport 2, Philomath 1
Wednesday at Philomath
NEWPORT 1 1 — 2
PHILOMATH 0 1 — 1
PHS goals — 1, Andrew Mecham (Isaac Jorgens).
Team notes: Philomath's JV goes to 4-6 on the season. ... The Warriors tied Newport early in the second half on a header goal by Andrew Mechan off a pass from Isaac Jorgens. ... Coach Matt Konkler said the Warriors had chances in the second half but weren't able to finish. ... "The players had a very good game and worked hard," Konkler said. ... Philomath took a 6-1 win Oct. 3 over Yamhill-Carlton. ... Against the Tigers, Lucas Ainsworth scored in the third and 52nd minutes, the first one on an assist from Eli Bogain. ... Also against Y-C, Jorgens scored on a header goal off a corner kick by Richy Garcia-Bazan. Others finding the net were J.J. Rutledge, Blake Brower and Luc Barnes. ... Philomath lost to Stayton Oct. 5 by a 5-0 score. ... "It was a tough game but I thought the players had a good game," Konkler said. "Stayton is just a very tough opponent." ... The JV team was scheduled to play Thursday at Stayton.