Philomath High’s 7-0 victory Thursday afternoon in front of the home fans felt pretty good for more than one reason.
First, the Warriors made it impossible for any type of ranking system to leave them out of a Class 4A play-in game. Second, the performance occurred on Senior Day with several of those students playing key roles in the win. And third, and perhaps most sweet, it came against Newport, an Oregon West Conference rival that’s given Philomath plenty of fits over the years.
“We had a little setback against Cascade in wet weather and a little bit of just being unlucky, but with this victory, we pretty much secured a spot in the play-in so I think we’ll go places,” PHS senior Bryce Beeton said after the win.
The Cubs appeared to be a thorn in Philomath’s side again this time around with the Warriors stumbling through a slow start. With a play-in game appearance likely on the line, players came out a little tentative.
“We knew that if we won today, it probably meant playoffs for us and a loss would put us in jeopardy,” PHS coach Dave Ellis said. “I think we played tight with that feeling. There’s a lot of excitement and anxiety about it.”
Despite the early issues, Philomath still had taken a 2-0 lead by halftime.
“Like I told the team at the half, I think we played terrible in the first half but we were up by two,” Ellis said. “We sorted a few things out, got an early goal and then the floodgates opened.”
Newport nearly scored in the game’s second minute with a shot sailing wide left. The Warriors came very close to getting on the scoreboard in the 12th minute when sophomore Noah Ayes sent a header toward the net. But the ball hit the crossbar and Newport dodged a bullet.
The Cubs had their chances as well in the minutes that followed with Jonathon Mazo-Amezaga missing on a header of his own off a corner kick and then teammate Aidan Pierias shooting right at PHS goalkeeper Judah Bacho after receiving effective set-up passes.
“Newport’s really good at holding the ball and they came out with a lot of energy,” Ellis said. “I really questioned in the first 20 minutes if they were going to be able to maintain that. We also played into their hands with a lot of panic touches and not just having composure.”
In the 22nd minute, Philomath finally found the back of the net. Junior Nick Stucki brought the ball down the left side while junior Andrew Mecham yelled for the ball in the center of the box. Stucki got the ball to him and Mecham finished with a left-footed goal for a 1-0 lead.
The Warriors had more chances the rest of the half and even drew a penalty kick in the 33rd minute when sophomore Mark Grimmer went hard to the ground. Senior Ben Reams attempted the PK but the shot went right at Newport’s keeper.
Philomath then got another opportunity at the penalty kick when Grimmer was again tackled in the box. Stucki took the shot and buried it in the right corner for a 2-0 lead. Newport’s goalkeeper, Lex Roller, was hit with a yellow card on the play.
In the second half, Philomath dominated and got things started quickly on a Mecham goal just 90 seconds in when he caught Newport’s keeper out of the net. Grimmer scored in the 46th minute for a 4-0 lead.
Newport (3-10 overall, 3-8 Oregon West) played with a degree of effectiveness at times but too much passing appeared to hamper its efforts at times.
“They try to dominate possession even when they’re not the better team and in my mind, that just makes them ripe for the counterattack because they get forward, they get forward, and leave gaps and leaving gaps against us is lethal just because we’re so fast,” Ellis said.
In the 62nd minute, Mecham appeared to have an easy path to the net but while dribbling, Newport’s keeper dragged him down. Philomath not only got a third PK in the game but Cubs’ goalkeeper received another yellow, which because he now had two, turned into a red card and his ejection from the contest.
Grimmer took the penalty kick and scored with a shot to the left. Seconds later, Philomath scored again with Mecham finding the net on a set-up from Stucki. Just like that, the Warriors led 6-0.
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Philomath’s final goal came in the 75th minute off the foot of foreign-exchange student Julius Hoffman.
Games remain to be played, including Philomath’s trip Tuesday to Woodburn, but as this week nears an end, the Warriors are sitting in the No. 6 play-in spot. The strongest possibilities for opponents on the road would be Hidden Valley or Baker.
Philomath 7, Newport 0
Thursday at Philomath
NEWPORT (3-10, 3-8) 0 0 — 0
PHILOMATH (8-5, 7-4) 2 5 — 7
First half — 1, Philomath, Andrew Mecham (Nick Stucki), 22nd minute; 2, Philomath, Stucki (PK), 38th minute.
Second half — 3, Philomath, Mecham, 42nd minute; 4, Philomath, Mark Grimmer (Mecham), 46th minute; 5, Philomath, Grimmer (PK), 62nd minute; 6, Philomath, Stucki (Mecham), 63rd minute; 7, Philomath, Julius Hoffman, 75th minute.
Philomath 2, Newport 2
Thursday at Philomath
PHS goals — 1, Philomath, Chase Ringwald; 2, Philomath, Nixon Mooney.
Team notes: Philomath's JV goes to 4-4-2 on the season. ... Nixon Mooney's chipped on past the keeper to end the match. ... The team plays Tuesday at Woodburn.