In a boys soccer matchup that could have postseason implications, Philomath and Sisters played to a scoreless tie Thursday afternoon.
The Warriors are off to a 2-1-1 start in the Oregon West Conference and will tackle a tough stretch with Newport (Sept. 20), Woodburn (Sept. 24) and Stayton (Sept. 27) over their next three league contests.
“I feel like the fourth-place position is likely to go to the playoffs and today against Sisters, I think it’s going to be between us and Sisters for fourth,” PHS coach Dave Ellis said. “I’m not unhappy with a tie because it still leaves everything in our hands. We may have to go to Sisters and get a win.”
Woodburn, last year’s Class 5A state champions, moved down to 4A and has been impressive again this fall. Newport is the defending 4A state champs although the Cubs have been played close this year and Philomath historically plays them tough. And Stayton is off to a 4-1 start, which included a 4-0 win over the Warriors back on Sept. 4 with the lone loss to Woodburn.
In Thursday’s game, the game was an even back-and-forth affair through the first 20 minutes with the Outlaws putting pressure on the net on a couple of occasions. Senior Colby Simeral came close during a scramble in front of the net in the 19th minute but the Warriors were able to clear.
Two minutes later, Philomath had an attack come close and although the ball didn’t find the net, the Warriors seemed to dictate play the rest of the way with an advantage in athleticism.
“The way Sisters was playing, they were playing a very high press defense, they were moving a ton off the ball,” Ellis said. “I was watching it and didn’t think they had the legs to do it the whole game. After 15, 20 minutes, they started to get a little tired and we started leaning on them.”
The Warriors missed several scoring opportunities, a few shots going wide by only a few inches. In the first half, freshman Mark Grimmer just missed on a set-up from junior Filip Sohus Furuseth in the 21st minute. In the 28th minute, junior Logan Hannigan-Downs got the ball inside to Grimmer on a cross that just barely missed to the right.
In the second half, Furuseth had an opportunity on a free kick from 20 yards out but the Sisters goalkeeper got a hand on it and pushed it past the post. Those are just a few examples — there were other shots.
“We had a bunch of chances,” Ellis said. “We just didn’t execute at the right moment at the right time today.”
Ellis said his team would get an attack out of two or three passes but some players appeared to play panicked and the ball wouldn’t go where they wanted it to.
“That just comes with a number of games they play and the technical comfort of the ball,” he said. “Right now, we’re not technically there.”
Philomath senior Alex Artalejo has been a key player in the net so far this season — Ellis comparing him to a “warm blanket in the back you have to warm yourself up in.” Philomath hasn’t been scored upon in three straight games with Sweet Home, Cascade and now Sisters all unable to get a ball through to the net.
Ellis said he was impressed with the well-coached Sisters squad and how they played.
“We need to learn some subtleties of the game to be able to deal with a team like that,” Ellis said. “They were a more savvy soccer team than we were today.”
Philomath (3-1-2 overall) will not be in action this coming Tuesday with a week off from competition before playing Sept. 18 at home against Newport. Home games begin at 4:15 p.m.
“We fell short of a goal, but I thought we did everything we needed on the pitch to do,” Ellis said.
Philomath 0, Sisters 0
Thursday at Philomath
SISTERS (1-4-1, 1-2-1) 0 0 — 0
PHILOMATH (3-1-2, 2-1-1) 0 0 — 0
Philomath 8, Sisters 0
Thursday at Philomath
SISTERS 0 0 — 0
PHILOMATH 4 4 — 8
PHS goals — Andrew Mecham (Noah Aynes); Andrew Mecham (Noah Aynes); Andrew Mecham (Luke Haslam); Andrew Chatfield; Noah Aynes (Luke Haslam); Luke Haslam (Eli Bogatin); Luke Haslam (Noah Aynes); Noah Aynes (Eli Bogatin).
Team notes: Philomath’s JV improved to 3-1 on the season. … “We played an excellent game — best of the year so far with excellent possession and ball movement,” JV coach Matt Konkler said. “Due to sickness, however, it was difficult for Sisters as they could only field a 10-man team without subs.” … Sophomore Andrew Mecham got a hat trick in the first six minutes of the game — scoring twice on assists from freshman Noah Aynes and once by junior Luke Haslam. … Sophomore Andrew Chatfield scored unassisted in the 19th minute “on a great individual effort from pressing the defender,” Konkler said. … Aynes scored in the 56th minute with an assist from Haslam. … Haslam scored the next two goals a minute apart in the 63rd and 64th minutes with the second being “a beautiful long-range shot,” Konkler said. Sophomore Eli Bogatin and Aynes had assists on the Haslam goals. … Aynes scored the final goal in the 70th minute on an assist from Bogatin. … Philomath’s JV is scheduled to play at 6:15 p.m. Friday at Corvallis High.