PHILOMATH — The home team came through with a rivalry game, senior recognition, playoff positioning and an emotional contest rolled into one.
Philomath High jumped out to a big lead and then held off Cascade 3-2 in an Oregon West Conference girls soccer match.
Getting a goal and two assists from senior Carrie Lillis, the Warriors (6-5-2, 4-3-2) moved past the Cougars (5-4-2, 4-4-1) into second place in the Oregon West heading into Tuesday’s regular-season finale at Yamhill-Carlton.
“When we combine we play, and when we play as a team we play our best game,” Lillis said.
Cascade put heavy pressure on Philomath and keeper Kena Bacho for the game’s first 10 minutes, but the Warriors came away unscathed and eventually turned the tide.
Philomath scored first on the rainy late afternoon, just before halftime on a Lillis goal after a nice set of passes.
Lillis passed a ball back to Anita Acevedo in the defensive midfield. Under duress, Acevedo got a pass to Halle Hewitt down the right sideline.
“She had a pretty good angle, but I thought I had a better one,” Lillis said. “She passed it into me, perfect ball in, and I shot right underneath the keeper’s hands.”
The Warriors had to play the final 38 minutes without Hewitt, a sophomore forward who left the field with some help after a leg injury.
Alivia Pittman made it 2-0 on a shot through the Cascade keeper’s legs in the 63rd minute. Seconds later, The Cougars’ keeper stopped a Lillis shot on goal but couldn’t control it. Acevedo was there to clean it up and put the ball in the net.
The Warriors allowed two late goals, including one in the 78th minute that made it a 3-2 score, and endured some nervous moments. But they breathed a collective sigh of relief at the final whistle.
“Just sticking to our game plan and playing as a team,” Philomath coach Mat Phelps said of his team’s success. “Looking to play off of each other. We don’t look to be individuals, we look to be together. We were really successful when we combined our passes and got up the field together.”
Defensively, the Warriors took on a team that was fast and physical. The game plan was much the same as it was on offense — playing as a unit.
“They really did a great job with that.” Phelps said. “We had a couple hiccups in the end, but overall they defended really well.”
Lillis praised her defense, particularly the play of center backs Mia Rust, a freshman, and Mallory Stokes, a senior.
Philomath and Cascade have developed a rivalry in recent years, with the past four games covering the last three seasons all ending in ties. That included a 1-1 draw Sept. 28 in Turner.
Lillis said her team played the game for two players in the program.
The freshmen were injured after they were hit by a vehicle at Philomath City Park following their junior varsity soccer game nearby.
Megan McGaughy suffered a serious brain injury and was transported to a Portland hospital, where she remained Thursday. Malia Taufa’asau had minor injuries.
The Warriors wore bows in their hair in support of them. One part was turquoise, McGaughy’s favorite color, and the other blue, Taufa’asau’s favorite. Philomath’s student body wore those colors Thursday as well.
“It’s very difficult, because Malia and Megan are very close to the team,” Lillis said. “They’re little rays of sunshine on the team, so we have bows for them.”
The team planned to gather Friday morning to make a meal for the McCaughy family.
Phelps said the players have rallied around their teammates.
“Took a difficult challenge and made it something that drew them together,” he said.