By Jeremy McDonald
STAYTON, Ore.– Philomath did something that no one, including themselves, have done since November 16, 2019.
The Warriors did just that, defeating the Eagles 1-0 thanks to a 59th minute goal by Mark Grimmer. Snapping Stayton’s 20-game winning streak in the process, knowing that they needed and accomplished a complete-game effort to take down one of the juggernauts in 4A.
“It was definitely crucial. We really wanted to see how we would fare against Stayton, they’ve always been really good and we’ve always set our sights on them as the top contender,” Grimmer said. “We won’t take it for granted beating this team. We’re still going into every game like it’s Stayton every time.”
Both squads were evenly matched as the first half ended in a 0-0 draw. The Eagles built some momentum entering the second half that they continued into the second forty, working the outside part of the field. Hoping for a cross-pass that would end up as a goal to break the then scoreless game.
“We try to put it outside to get a cross, but when I think we do that sometimes there’s not people inside the box to chip it in and stuff like that,” Stayton’s Ishmel Esparza said.
The younger Esparza was the go-to guy in the first half for the Eagles offensively. But every time Stayton would get a run at it, they were met by Philomath junior Teddy Benbow who had other plans.
Benbow made save-after-save with his defense, keeping the Eagles from striking gold as his Stayton counterpart Luis Mejia was on the other side of the pitch. And knowing what the Eagles are capable of, Benbow was expecting the hornets’ nest after Grimmer’s goal to hang on for the victory.
“We saw the goal…we knew we could win it and so we just had to keep it going, we couldn’t let down for a second,” Benbow said. “They’re our toughest opponent all year and to win here, it’s something to our seniors, to our coach. It’s great.”
The Warriors rest their hat on their conditioning, believing they’re one of the State’s best in the category.
With Stayton however, the Chris Shields mindset was still there despite their frustrations in the closing moments of the game. They fought, clawed and dug deep to try to draw even with their opposition.
This game had the feel of a playoff game, and though the result didn’t go their way, they can’t hang their heads knowing they’re hosting Newport/Eddyville Charter on Thursday.
“This is definitely the toughest game we’ve played this season. First loss too which put all of us down…we all played hard though, I feel like we could’ve done better and won this game,” Esparza said. “Just communicate better, move the ball faster and work harder. Come out and give it that.”
Philomath will travel to Newport/Eddyville Charter Tuesday before the Cubs travel to Stayton Thursday.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald