With the Oregon West Conference title on the line, Philomath wasn’t going to let this one slip away.
Woodburn sophomore Myranda Marquez illustrated her soccer accuracy by placing a ball in the net from about 30 yards out. The Bulldogs had taken their first lead of the game at 2-1 in the 53rd minute and the home squad needed to find an answer.
Eight minutes later, Philomath sophomore Ella Weickum worked the ball on the right side of the attack and found teammate Alivia Pittman, a junior forward with a foot that can finish. In the 61st minute, she did just that and the knotted the score at 2-2.
That’s how it ended with Philomath and Woodburn tying each other for the second time this season. The Warriors needed only a tie to clinch the conference title.
“I’m really proud of the girls for fighting for it,” PHS coach Mat Phelps said. “We had adversity in the second half by being down a goal but we fought back and not only tied it but were knocking on the door to win it even though we didn’t need the extra goal. But they still wanted it.”
It’s been a common theme through a 12-game unbeaten streak — remember, the Warriors got off to an 0-2 start and haven’t lost since. Philomath finishes atop the Oregon West with a 9-0-3 record. Overall, the team ended up 9-2-3 and No. 6 in the OSAA rankings.
Woodburn finishes 10-2-2 overall, 9-1-2 in league play and both the Warriors and Bulldogs earn automatic berths in the Class 4A state playoffs.
Philomath will host a first-round game against Henley on Tuesday afternoon. The Hornets enter the game as the No. 11 seed with a record of 6-5-4. Henley beat Hidden Valley on Oct. 28, a team that Philomath lost to in its season opener. The winner will play Saturday against the Marist Catholic-Ontario winner.
Phelps said he’ll put his team through competitive situations this week in preparation for a first-round game this coming Tuesday.
“We’ll work on our touch a little bit, we’ll try to clean up some of the mistakes technically and then we’ll try to simulate a game later on in the week,” Phelps said. “Just try to get that competition level going again. We always try to have competition in practice so we don’t lose that focus.”
The Warriors went up against one of their own in Andrea Whiteman — a 2011 PHS graduate who played under John Williams from 2007-10, a stretch that included a state title in 2008.
“It’s always fun to be back in Philomath where everything started for me,” Whiteman said. “I was talking to Becca (Davis, PHS assistant) how it’s very nostalgic to be here. I played here, then I coached here, then coached against them. I think Philomath is always a fun soccer place to be at.”
Williams brought in Whiteman as the junior varsity coach in 2013 and after his resignation in 2015, she shared varsity co-coaching duties with Davis. Whiteman was a student teacher at the time and would later get her current full-time gig with Woodburn.
Philomath came out with an aggressive approach to try to make something happen against the Bulldogs’ defense.
“We went with our formation where we’re attacking more and so we had more players in forward positions than defensive players,” Phelps said.
It’s a strategy that the Warriors have used on other occasions this season.
“We’ve kinda switched back and forth,” Phelps said. “Our back three were confident, they said ‘we got this, let’s go three in the back so we can get more players forward.’ We like to hear that and that was kind of our strategy — to get the ball forward and let the girls do their job.”
The first half went back and forth with plenty of opportunities for both teams to cash in. Woodburn missed a golden opportunity in the 15th minute when Marquez took a shot that hit PHS goalkeeper Hailie Couture and on the rebound, Yahaira Rodriguez had a chance to finish. But her shot bounced off the right post and the Warriors dodged a bullet.
Philomath had a few opportunities as well with Pittman and Braedyn McNeely both getting good looks.
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Finally in the 31st minute, Pittman scored her first goal to put the home team up, 1-0. Freshman midfielder Elizabeth Morales was credited with an assist.
But Woodburn had an immediate answer with a goal on the other end in less than a minute. Luz Rojas got the ball to Rodriguez, who finished to tie the score.
Philomath controlled much of the second half but the Bulldogs still picked up a goal on a 30-yard shot by Marquez that came outside the box. The goal came 12 minutes into the second half and gave Woodburn a 2-1 lead.
“They had a really nice shot to take the lead,” Phelps said. “We didn’t get any pressure on them, but that was really our only lapse defensively.”
Philomath answered in the game’s 61st minute on Pittman’s second goal of the game.
“Overall, the second half was just so much better than the first half,” Phelps said. “We controlled the majority of the second half ... we won balls, we fought for everything. We had so many chances, so I thought our second half was really something good that we can keep building off of.”
Philomath had a couple of good chances to score the go-ahead goal but it didn’t happen. In the 71st minute, senior Madison Rogers passed to senior Halle Hewitt who sent the ball toward a sliding Pittman, who just barely missed getting it into the net.
“It’s funny because we play two very different styles of soccer,” Whiteman said. “They play a very long ball style and we’re more possession on the ground so it’s interesting to see how those face up against each other.”
Whiteman also mentioned Philomath’s height advantage.
“It’s good to see; it exposes things we need to work on for the playoffs,” she said.
Philomath 2, Woodburn 2
Tuesday at Philomath
WOODBURN (10-2-2, 9-1-2) 1 1 — 2
PHILOMATH (9-2-3, 9-0-3) 1 1 — 2
First half — 1, Alivia Pittman (Elizabeth Morales), 31st minute; 2, Woodburn, Yahaira Rodriguez (Luz Rojas), 32nd minute.
Second half — 3, Woodburn, Myranda Marquez, 53rd minute; 4, Philomath, Alivia Pittman (Ella Weickum), 61st minute.