By Jeremy McDonald
CORVALLIS, Ore.– For much of Tuesday night’s 4A State Semifinals between Philomath and North Marion, it was a grueling battle between two stout teams.
With all the aggression and physicality, it was scoreless until the 68th minute when the Huskies broke the then 0-0 gridlock thanks to an Aden Carillo goal in the Warriors 2-1 overtime win at Crescent Valley High School.
Both defenses held strong. Outside of Carillo’s goal, Teddy Benbow and his Philomath defense held strong while Evan Holman and Leo Mercado guided the North Marion defense through the continuous attack by the Warriors.
“They got good players, they’re all on the same page and they all played their game and we played our game. It was unfortunate on our behalf,” Mercado said. “Philomath played great, I felt like we were the better team until those last couple of minutes. They just pushed and pushed and pushed.”
Pushed Philomath did. Carillo’s goal motivated the Warriors more, eventually tying the game in the 78th minute by Mark Grimmer. Grimmer continued his scoring tear of scoring in at least once a game as his goal ultimately forced overtime.
In the two overtime periods, the stalemate continued as tensions grew knowing the possibilities of penalty kicks were on the horizon if no one scored.
As it seemed fitting in a game of defense, it was a defender that would lift one of these two Titans of the Pitch on this rainy evening as Dylan Bell hit on a long-distance free kick with three minutes left in the second overtime period. Lifting Philomath to face Hidden Valley Saturday evening at Hillsboro Stadium.
“It just worked out,” smiled Bell of his goal. “Especially sitting there in the back, you know you can’t really do too much going forward…it’s just a matter of time before we score. No one can stop our forwards, it’s amazing.
“It’s so huge (Mark Grimmer) and Silas (Pittman) on top, they’re our release valves when we’re under pressure in the back we can get it up there. We know they’ll create something eventually.”
For the Huskies, they clawed and fought for the equalizer. It never came as Philomath’s defense clamped down further to end North Marion’s season in the Semi-Final round, wrapping up an incredible 11-3-3 season that saw the Huskies go 11-0-3 entering the Semi-Final game.
“I love these guys, we had a great season. I had a great four years at North Marion. All 22 players on the field, everyone tried their hardest. It was a battle,” Mercado said.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald