When a team vaults out to a 5-0 lead by halftime, it’s not uncommon for coaches to ask their players to focus on a particular strategy while on the attack.
Philomath High’s girls soccer team went through that scenario Thursday in an 8-0 victory over visiting Newport. The Warriors had a five-goal lead at the break on two goals by junior Braedyn McNeely and single goals by senior Halle Hewitt, junior Kaili Saathoff and junior Alivia Pittman.
“The main thing today that we wanted to work on was switching fields, which we didn’t do that much of,” said McNeely, who in addition to her two first-half goals picked up an assist. “We kinda pick a thing to focus on and then practice it in this kind of game so we can prepare.”
Coach Mat Phelps also mentioned some of the work that he wanted to see his team accomplish in the comfortable victory.
“We wanted to switch fields a little bit more, work on our possession,” Phelps said. “It was OK, but we can improve on that.”
Switching fields in a term used to describe the strategy of quickly passing during an attack to the weak side. A desired outcome would be to stretch the opponent’s defense and create more opportunities to penetrate for good looks at the net.
“We talked about that at halftime — doing it the right way and not the easy way,” Phelps said about the approach to the second 40 minutes. “You can score goals and not necessarily be playing good soccer.”
Philomath scored its first goal 9 minutes, 45 seconds into the game when Hewitt scored with an assist to McNeely. On the play, Newport’s goalkeeper stopped the ball but was a foot inside the net.
Newport keeper followed with an impressive diving save in the 17th minute to deny Kaili Saathoff but the Warriors finished in the 21st minute on McNeely’s first goal. On the play, Pittman took a shot that bounced off the goalkeeper’s hands. McNeely picked up the rebound and scored.
McNeely, who added attacking midfield to her outside wing duties this season, scored again in the 28th minute with an assist to Saathoff for a 3-0 lead.
“I think our defense is super strong, which is nice, because sometimes we struggle on the offensive more — which we need to work on — but I think usually we work pretty well as a team,” McNeely said. “Even with a lot of new girls playing in new positions, we work pretty well together.”
A couple of minutes later, Philomath added another goal with Saathoff scoring with an assist to junior Mia Rust. In the 37th minute, the Warriors made it 5-0 on a Pittman goal with another assist credited to Rust.
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In the second half, senior Madison Rogers, who is a co-captain with Hewitt, scored with an assist to Saathoff in the 53rd minute. Nine minutes later, sophomore Reese Grube found the net unassisted. The team’s eighth goal came on an Atira Fairbanks shot with an assist to freshman Mia Cook.
Philomath’s defense pitched its fourth straight shutout with the last goal allowed clear back on Sept. 10 at Stayton. The Warriors have outscored opponents on their home field, 17-1. The win over Newport represented the team’s first game action in a week.
“It is nice having routine, so Tuesday, we really talked about that,” Phelps said. “We just rehashed our team goals to have that motivation to practice hard so we would be ready.”
Philomath improves to 4-2-1 overall, 4-0-1 in the Oregon West Conference and will head to Woodburn Tuesday in a game for first place. The Bulldogs will enter the contest with a 6-1 overall mark, 5-0 in league play.
Philomath 8, Newport 0
Thursday at Philomath
NEWPORT(1-6, 1-4) 0 0 — 0
PHILOMATH (4-2-1, 4-0-1) 5 3 — 8
First half — 1, Philomath, Halle Hewitt (Braedyn McNeely), 10th minute; 2, Philomath, Braedyn McNeely, 21st minute; 3, Philomath, Braedyn McNeely (Kaili Saathoff), 28th minute; 4, Philomath, Kaili Saathoff (Mia Rust), 30th minute; 5, Philomath, Alivia Pittman (Mia Rust), 37th minute.
Second half — 6, Philomath, Madison Rogers (Kaili Saathoff), 53rd minute; 7, Philomath, Reese Grube, 62nd minute; 8, Philomath, Atira Fairbanks (Mia Cook), 74th minute.