2008 State Champions!

(The following reprinted by permission from the Corvallis Gazette-Times.)

http://www.gazettetimes.com/content/articles/2008/11/16/sports/high_school/1prep01_phs.jpg Casey Campbell/Corvallis Gazette-Times Philomath High’s Sierra Grunwald (8) and Ramie Sartnurak celebrate after the first of Grunwald’s two goals during the Warriors’ 2-0 victory over Valley Catholic to win the OSAA 4A/3A/2A/1A girls soccer state championship in Wilsonville.


Coach: John Williams

Last year’s record: 14-1-2, 9-0 Special District 4 (first place). Lost to Hidden Valley in quarterfinals of the state playoffs

Key returners: Renay Norman (Sr., D/Mid), Kelly Keese (Sr., Mid/F), Sadi Stouder (Sr., F/Mid), Lena Cottam (Sr., Mid/D), Micaela Danko (Sr., Mid/D), Hope Gunter (Sr., GK), Ramie Sartnurak (Soph., F/Mid), Sierra Grunwald (Soph., F/Mid), Haley Gaffney (Jr., D/Mid), Joy deVos (Jr., F/Mid)

Outlook: With seven seniors and eight returning starters, expectations are high for the Warriors. “After losing to last year’s state champion, Hidden Valley, everyone on the team would be disappointed if we did not advance to the championship game,” Williams said. PHS’s strengths this season will be its backline and its speed on offense. However, the Warriors’ midfield still needs to be settled. “We need to tie everything together, see how quickly we can come together, and figure out how to share the playing time,” Williams said. PHS has a good nonleague schedule and will be challenged in league by Blanchet and Westside Christian.

2008 Schedule


Philomath 3, Astoria 0

Philomath girls are 3-0 in soccer


ASTORIA - The Philomath High girls soccer team defeated Astoria 3-0 on Saturday for its third win in as many games this season.

Ramie Sartnurak and Kelly Keese had a goal and an assist for the Warriors, who host to Catlin Gabel at 4:15 p.m. today.

Philomath 3, Astoria 0

First half

PHS: Ramie Sartmurak (Kelly Keese), 8:00

PHS: Keese (Sartmurak), 13:00

Second half

PHS: Joy deVos (Tegan Grunwald), 58:00

Philomath 6, Catlin Gabel 0

http://www.gazettetimes.com/content/articles/2008/09/17/sports/high_school/6prep01_phssoccer.jpg Casey Campbell | Gazette-Times (9-16-08) Philomath’s Joy deVos races by the fallen Catlin Gabel goalkeeper to score a goal in the first half.

Philomath blanks Catlin Gabel

Warriors limit Eagles to two shots in win

By Raju Woodward Gazette-Times Reporter

PHILOMATH - Scoring early and often was the key for the Philomath High girls soccer teams in it first three games of the season, all victories.

That changed on Monday against powerhouse Catlin Gabel, though. The Warriors didn’t score until the 22nd minute, but once they found the net they never looked back en route to a 6-0 shutout.

Senior Lena Cottam’s unassisted goal put PHS (4-0) on the board. Three minutes later, junior Barry McLaren fired a long pass from the back to a streaking Ramie Sartnurak.

The sophomore got to the ball, made one move past her defender and punched the ball into the right corner of the net.

“The first goal is always important,” senior forward Sadi Stouder said. “Everyone was working really hard and this boosted everyone’s confidence.”

Stouder scored two goals for the Warriors, her first coming three minutes before halftime. Sophomore Mykinnon Harwood centered the ball and Stouder put the ball over the outstretched hands of the goalie to give her team a commanding 4-0 lead.

Joy deVos scored PHS’s other goal in the first half in the 36th minute. The ball ended out in front of her and she found the back of the net from the top right corner of the box.

While the Warriors’ offensive attack was impressive, especially on breakaways, it was their defense that shined in the first half. Catlin Gabel didn’t have a shot on goal, and finished with two for the game.

It was PHS’s second stellar defensive outing. In Saturday’s win over Astoria, the Warriors allowed just three shots, all in the second half as well.

“It all comes down to that big stat,” PHS coach John Williams said. “If the other team doesn’t get any shots, they can’t beat you.”

Added senior defender Renay Norman: “I think we were very prepared for today. We’ve worked very hard on defense the last two years and I think it’s paying off.”

Despite a comfortable lead, the Warriors kept up their intensity in second half, offensively and defensively. Catlin Gabel got the ball across midfield just a handful of times, while Sartnurak and Stouder scored their second goals of the game for PHS.

Sartnurak found the back of the net from a few yards out in the 66th minute, while Stouder sent a Joceline Howard pass past the keeper two minutes later to extend the Warriors lead to 6-0.

Williams was impressed with his team’s effort against a squad he said will be in the playoffs this season.

“The girls are doing a great job of supporting each other,” Williams said. “If one of them steps up to the ball, then the other one drops in behind them and supports. Things are working the way they are supposed to. We showed what kind of team we can be.”

The Warriors are not only talented and experienced, but deep as well. Williams pointed out that the team got going on offense when some of the starters went out, which is a testament to all the options it has.

McLaren was a prime example.

Within a minute of coming into the match to replace an injured Andrea Whiteman, she assisted on the Warriors’ second goal.

But the real key to PHS’s season could be its defense. And if Monday’s match is any indication, the Warriors could have a strong 2008 campaign, because any coach or player will tell you success starts in the back.

“You can’t do anything without the defense,” Stouder said. “They start everything. Defense is very important. You can’t win a game without them.”

Philomath concludes nonleague play on Thursday when it hosts Western Mennonite.

Philomath 6, Catlin Gabel 0

First Half

PHS: Lena Cottam, 22:00

PHS: Ramie Sartnurak (Barry McLaren, 25:00

PHS: Joy deVos, 36:00

PHS: Sadi Stouder (Mykinnon Harwood), 37:00

Second half

PHS: Ramie Sartnurak, 66:00

PHS: Sadi Stouder (Joceline Howard), 68:00

PHS girls soccer taking nothing for granted

http://www.gazettetimes.com/content/articles/2008/11/11/sports/high_school/6prep01_phs.jpg SCOBEL WIGGINS | Gazette-Times Philomath goalkeeper Hope Gunter moves in goal to try and stop a kick by Mykinnon Harwood during practice on Monday. The Warriors host Oregon Episcopal School in a semifinal game today.

By Raju Woodward

Gazette-Times Reporter (11-11-08)

Don’t read too much into the Philomath High girls soccer team’s

8-1 victory over Oregon Episcopal earlier this season.

The Warriors certainly aren’t. That match was played back on Sept. 12, and a lot has changed since then.

After dropping two straight after facing PHS, the Aardvarks have been on a tear, winning 10 of their last 12 games. They are coming off a 3-1 win over St. Mary’s last Saturday in the quarterfinals.

“O.E.S. had turnaround during season and they have won everything,” PHS senior Sadi Stouder said. “So to me, it makes me a little more nervous and wanting reassurance, ‘Did we really beat them last time? What’s happening? Why are they here?’”

So today’s 2 p.m. semifinal game at PHS figures to be much closer than the previous one. Besides, Warriors coach John Williams said anything can happen this time of the season.

He would knows that all too well. Last Tuesday, Catlin Gabel, a team PHS shut out earlier this season, played the Warriors to 1-1 tie, before PHS won in the shootout.

“We talked about this (Sunday),” Williams said after practice on Monday. “We beat Catlin Gabel 6-0 and then they came and changed what they had done.

“So I pointed out O.E.S.’s schedule that they lost four games in a row and that they lost to Catlin Gabel 3-0 and five days later they beat Catlin Gabel 2-1.

“So they obviously have made some adjustments and some corrections and as team I am sure they will make some adjustments tomorrow. So I expect just as tough as a game when we faced Catlin Gabel.”

The Warriors are coming off a 1-0 victory over Gladstone on Saturday in the quarterfinals that earned them their first trip the semifinals since 2005.

Sophomore Tegan Grunwald scored the only goal of the match in the 34th minute off an assist by Ramie Sartnurak, and the Philomath defense did its job over the balance of the game.

“We watched some film,” senior Renay Norman said. “So we knew who to mark up on and we pretty much shut down their main players.”

Added Williams: “This time of the season, defense is what wins the game and we played excellent defense.

Across the backline, they just hung together and did what they needed to do. The midfielders did their job on the defensive side too.”

PHS went through practice on Monday in pretty much the same manner as it has all season. In fact, the atmosphere was surprisingly relaxed. Stouder said the Warriors have come together well lately because passes are going more to feet and the girls are talking more.

But that doesn’t mean they are overconfident or not nervous. She said her and the other six seniors on the squad have been warning their teammates not to get too cocky.

“I’m not too bad right now,” Norman said. “But I think that will change tomorrow. It’s the semifinals, you can’t help but get nervous.”

In similar fashion to its practices, PHS isn’t planning to change its approach against O.E.S. Williams, however, expects the Aardvarks to mix things up. They might not go away from their traditional 4-4-2 zone, but Williams wouldn’t be surprised if they try to mark some of his players.

“That’s what Catlin did,” Williams said. “They picked particular players of ours and marked tight on them. I don’t know if O.E.S. will do that though . . . I’m sure they are going are going to do something, but what? I don’t know.

“We might have take the first five minutes to figure out what they are doing and what we need to do different, if we need to do anything.”

Stouder said she and her teammates feel well-prepared going into today’s match. Their formula for success is simple: to keep playing like they have all season. After all, they are undefeated. As a result, the girls know that will win or lose as a team.

And Stouder was quick to point out another advantage the Warriors will have today.

“Our homecrowd fans are all going to be here,” Stouder said. “So that gives everyone a boost of energy and raises the intensity. So hopefully everyone comes focused and mentally-prepared for this hard match.”

Admission to today’s match at PHS is $7 for adults, $5 for students.

Playing for a title

http://www.gazettetimes.com/content/articles/2008/11/12/sports/high_school/5prep01_phsgirls.jpg Casey Campbell | Gazette-Times Philomath’s Sadi Stouder makes a move past Oregon Episcopal School’s Rachel Brock to take a shot on goal during the Warriors’ 3-0 victory in the semifinal game on Tuesday. Stouder scored the third goal for Philomath turned up the pressure on OES in the second half and created numerous scoring opportunities.

Warriors score early in each half to knock off OES and reach championship game

By Raju Woodward Gazette-Times Reporter (11-12-08)

PHILOMATH — All season long, the Philomath High girl’s soccer team had a simple goal in every match.

“We always tried to get a goal in the first 10 minutes,” senior forward Sadi Stouder said. “Because whenever we score a goal, our team intensity rises and it’s exciting to watch.”

Scoring quickly was exactly what PHS did on Tuesday afternoon en route to a 3-0 victory over Oregon Episcopal School in the OSAA 4A/3A/2A/1A semifinals.

With the win, the Warriors advanced to the state championship game for the first time in program history.

They will face Valley Catholic on Saturday at Wilsonville High at 3:30 p.m. for the title.

Nine minutes into Tuesday’s match, sophomore Sierra Grunwald headed the ball into the goal to give the Warriors a 1-0 lead.

“Lena (Cottam) crossed it in and it went just over Ramie’s (Sartnurak) head,” Grunwald said. “I happened to be right behind her and it bounced in there.”

It took PHS even less time to get on the board in the second half, and once again, Grunwald was involved in the play.

This time she assisted on a score by her sister, Tegan, in the first minute of the half. At that point, Warriors coach John Williams knew his team could put away OES.

“After that second goal, you could see OES hanging their heads,” Williams said. “That just made the third goal come easier. It was great.”

Fittingly, it was Stouder who scored PHS’s final goal and gave the Warriors some extra breathing room. She was even more vocal than usual on Tuesday, but that didn’t surprise her coach.

“Sadi directs traffic from the midfield,” Williams said of his senior captain. “That’s her job. She’s an attacking inside mid. She’s supposed to be behind the forwards and in front of the two defensive inside mids.”

Stouder took a pass from Joy deVos, made a quick move and fired a shot from about 15 yards out that went over the outstretched hands of Aardvarks goalkeeper Saskia Ilcisin and into the back of the net. Stouder, however, was quick to give credit to her teammates for making the play possible.

“I couldn’t have done that without the forwards making their runs, giving me my service and pulling the defenders off me,” Stouder said. “So it was team effort on that one.”

As it was on defense for the Warriors nearly the entire match. After a sluggish start in which they bent a little too much and didn’t close gaps as well as they could have in the first 10 minutes, they found their stride.

They ended up holding OES to eight shots, but Williams said it seemed like less because the Aardvarks only had a couple of quality shots on goal, as opposed to PHS’s 26 shots.

“They were all from a long way out and that gives the goalkeeper an advantage because she can see them coming,” Williams said.

Williams said Warriors keeper Hope Gunter did everything that was asked of her on Tuesday, especially when it came to being talkative and directing the backfield.

When asked about her team’s strong start in the second half, Stouder credited what Williams told them at halftime.

“He told us to play the game as if it was beginning at 0-0,” Stouder said. “So it’s a fresh start, anyone can win this match. So we just came out and said we need to step up our game and get a goal in the first 10.”

And thanks to a sister connection between the Grunwalds, the Warriors did exactly that and now have their eyes set on the state championship, an opportunity they have long waited for.

“For me, this is for everyone that has been through program,” Williams said. “We have knocked on the door a couple times and we finally got through the foot and now get to play for the state title and that’s cool.”

Philomath 3, OES 0

First Half

PHS: Sierra Grunwald (Lena Cottam), 9:00

Second Half

PHS: Tegan Grunwald (S. Grunwald), 41:00

PHS: Sadi Stouder (Joy deVos), 51:00

Facing a familiar foe

http://www.gazettetimes.com/content/articles/2008/11/04/sports/high_school/6prep02_warriors.jpg Casey Cambell | Gazette-Times Philomath High’s Ramie Sartnurak (9) and the rest of the girls soccer team look to make a run in the playoffs. The Warriors open against a Catlin Gabel team they defeated 6-0 back in September. Sartnurak had two goals in the win.

Philomath girls take on Catlin Gabel in playoff opener

By Raju Woodward Gazette-Times Reporter (11-3-08)

PHILOMATH - When the Philomath High girls soccer team steps onto the pitch today for its second-round playoff game, it will be facing a familiar opponent.

PHS, which went undefeated this season and won the Special District 4 championship, hosts Catlin Gabel for the second time this season at 2 p.m.

In the first meeting on Sept. 15, the Warriors scored four first-half goals en route to a 6-0 victory. Ramie Sartnurak and Sadi Stouder each scored two goals for PHS. Meanwhile, the Warriors defense limited Catlin Gabel to two shots the entire match, both coming in the second half.

However, it took the Warriors over 20 minutes to find the back of the net in that game, a rarity for them this season. One of their trademarks has been quick starts. So PHS coach John Williams said his girls need to be aggressive from the get-go.

“Catlin Gabel is going to play us tough,” Williams said on Monday night. “So the most important thing for us is that we are going to have to be ready to play hard and fast from the start.”

While Catlin Gabel (9-6-2), the No. 3 seed from Special District 1, has had an up-and-down season, PHS will likely have a tougher time today against the Eagles. After all, there’s a quarterfinal berth on the line this time around.

Catlin Gabel won’t have to worry about being rusty either, coming off a 2-0 shutout of LaGrande in the first round last Saturday. The Warriors, however, haven’t played since last Tuesday when they defeated Westside Christian in overtime to earn the No. 1 seed. Williams doesn’t think that will be an issue.

“At this time of year, it’s actually nice to have some time off,” he said. “It’s a good thing when you have players with injuries. It gives us a chance to rest and heal.”

Besides, the Warriors have scrimmaged plenty the past week, including Monday night. As a result, Williams said his girls are excited to simply get out there and play again.

Last Tuesday’s win avenged a tie against Westside Christian on Oct. 16, the only blemish in an otherwise perfect season for the Warriors. PHS finished the regular season with a 14-0-1 record.

A win over the Eagles, who won 10 consecutive 3A/2A/1A state titles from 1994-2004, would make PHS’s season even sweeter because the two teams have battled before in the playoffs. During Catlin Gabel’s dominating run, they played each other four times and every time, the Eagles prevailed.

“There’s definitely some history between us,” Williams said. “So it’s true, it would be very nice to beat them finally.”

The two squads met in the quarterfinals in 1996, a 2-0 Eagles victory. Then in the 1999 semifinals, Catlin Gabel defeated the Warriors 1-0. In 2002, the Eagles knocked PHS out in the second round with a 1-0 victory. And most recently, the Warriors fell to Catlin Gabel in the 2003 semifinals, 5-2.

Williams pointed out another interesting connection between the two program: His daughter Sara was an assistant coach for Catlin Gabel in 2005 under current Eagles coach Mark Lawton.

And if practice is any indication, the Warriors are feeling good about their chances of getting past the Eagles and making a run toward the championship match.

“We have had good practices,” Williams said. “On offense and defense. The girls have what they are supposed to do burned inside their heads.”

Philomath girls edge Catlin Gabel in shootout

http://www.gazettetimes.com/content/articles/2008/11/05/sports/high_school/5prep03_phsgirls.jpg SCOBEL WIGGINS | GAZETTE-TIMES Ramie Sartnurak of Philomath keeps the ball away from Catlin Gabel’s Sarah Lovenstein in the first half. Sartnurak scored PHS’s only goal in regulation play.

By Steve Gress

Gazette-Times sports editor (11-4-08)

PHILOMATH — Mindi Larrabee and Hope Gunter have spent a lot of time after practice working on penalty kicks.

Larrabee would pepper Gunter with shot after shot after shot.

All those extra minutes of practice came up big on Tuesday.

Gunter allowed just one goal in a shootout, and Larrabee delivered the game-winner as the Philomath High girls soccer team escaped with a 2-1 win over Catlin Gabel in the 4A/3A/2A/1A playoffs.

Larrabee’s goal gave Philomath the 3-1 win in the shootout.

As she turned around after scoring, Larrabee’s teammates began to celebrate. Then it hit her.

“Actually I didn’t know that was the one so that was probably in my favor,” Larrabee said. “I actually wasn’t thinking about the score at all, I was just thinking, ‘I’ve got to get it in.’

“I knew I had a strong shot to that side and I knew if I could just get it past that goalie it was good.”

PHS (15-0-1) will play at Gladstone on Saturday in the second round, at a time to be determined. Gladstone defeated Marist 3-2 on Tuesday in its first-round game.

The Warriors seized control of the shootout after two rounds. Gunter made two saves and Sadi Stouder and Renay Norman converted for a 2-0 advantage.

Catlin Gabel’s third shot hit the post and PHS had a chance to end it, but Kelly Keese sailed her shot just high.

Catlin Gabel’s Rebecca Lazar coaxed her shot into the left corner and the Eagles stayed alive, down


But Larrabee made sure there wouldn’t be a fifth shot with the game-winner.

“(They) knew out of the last three we just had to put one in and those are good odds,” PHS coach John Williams said. “You have to enjoy those odds.

“They got to determine their own destiny and they did. They did it in an incredible way.”

While Larrabee appeared calm and collected before her shot, Gunter was just as cool throughout the shootout.

She said she had read the story in the Gazette-Times following the Corvallis-Crescent Valley boys soccer game that went to a shootout.

CHS keeper Nick Creswick said he sang a song to get prepared for the shootout.

Gunter said she did the same thing, but once she entered the box, everything went silent.

“I was reading their shot, reading their hips mostly and trying to beat the ball to the goal,” Gunter said.

And what a relief after stopping the first one.

“It was the first one and I was there before the ball was there. It was great,” she said. “It was a big boost of my confidence and my energy.”

Larrabee was proud of her practice partner.

“I liked a lot how she went one way and stuck with that way,” Larrabee said. “She did great at guessing -. or reading.

She did a great job of reading their kicks and she saved two great ones.”

Gunter also came up with a couple of key saves in regulation, and her teammates were finally able to get on the board in the second half.

Catlin Gabel held a 1-0 lead at the half and continued to put pressure on.

But Sierra Grunwald was able to send a through ball to Ramie Sartnurak, who was able to juke the keeper for the equalizer in the 48th minute.

Those two nearly teamed up again a few minutes later, but Sartnurak wasn’t able to finish and the game wound up tied after regulation.

“The chances were hard today,” Williams said. “They scouted us and played us just the way they had to. They took us out of our rhythm. We were out of sync and out of rhythm.”

The Warriors defeated Catlin Gabel 6-0 earlier in the year. That success may have played into the Warriors’ effort on Tuesday.

“Today was a little bit of an off day,” Gunter said. “I think we underestimated them. We beat them before. Everyone was saying don’t underestimate them, but it didn’t sink in.”

Philomath 2, Catlin Gabel 1 (3-1 shootout)

First half

CG: Alex Henry (Abby Conyers), 20:00

Second half

PHS: Ramie Sartnurak (Sierra Grunwald), 48:00

Setting complacency aside

http://www.gazettetimes.com/content/articles/2008/11/08/sports/high_school/2pre02_gsoc.jpg Scobel Wiggins | Gazette-Times The Philomath girls soccer team lines up for the shootout that ended their playoff game against Caitlin Gabel on Tuesday. The Warriors play Gladstone in the quarterfinals today, hoping to put forth a more focused effort.

By Steve Gress Gazette-Times sports editor (11-8-08)

Philomath girls aiming for first semifinal berth since 2005

Complacency can set in for any team when they aren’t used to being tested. That might be what happened to the Philomath High girls soccer team on Tuesday.

The Warriors, who opened the 4A/3A/2A/1A playoffs with a 14-0-1 record, were really only challenged twice during the regular season, both times against Special District 4 rival Westside Christian.

The two teams tied 2-2 in their first meeting, then Philomath won a thrilling 3-2 decision in overtime in a seeding game.

Up first in the playoffs was a Catlin Gabel team the Warriros had routed 6-0 early in the season.

Things would be much different this time around as Catlin Gabel pushed the Warriors to overtime and eventually a shooutout to determine a winner.

Fortunately for the Warriors, they were able to overcome a sluggish performance and came away with the win.

Now comes a 2 p.m. road test at Gladstone in the quarterfinals today.

PHS keeper Hope Gunter knows the Warriors need to play better than they did on Tuesday.

“I think we underestimated (Catlin Gabel),” she said after Tuesday’s win. “Everyone was saying don’t underestimate them, but it didn’t sink in.”

PHS coach John WIlliams credited Catlin Gabel with a solid gameplan, but also knew his team didn’t play up to its potential.

“Our passes were three-quarters the pace they needed to be,” he said.

Senior Mindi Larrabbe seemed to feel the same way.

“I feel we need to bring the ball down a little,” she said. “We need to step it up more with our passes on the ground. If we want to win, we have to have possession of the ball.”

The wet and muddy field could have had something to do with Philomath’s play. Those same conditions may take place again today.

Philomath will be looking to reach the semifinals for the fourth time in six seasons, however the Warriors haven’t advanced to the final four since 2005. In three of the last five years, the Warriors have lost to the eventual champion, including last year’s quarterfinal loss to Hidden Valley. Hidden Valley knocked off Gladstone in the round of 16 last year.

Both teams enter with impressive offensive and defensive numbers. Gladstone is 13-1 with the only loss to Special District 2 champion La Salle. Phiomath is 15-0-1.

Gladstone has scored 68 goals and allowed just seven, including four to La Salle. Philomath has scored 101 goals and allowed six. Gladstone has 11 shutouts, the Warriors 12.

The winner advances to face the winner of today’s Oregon Episcopal-St. Mary’s game on Tuesday. In the other quarterfinal games, La Salle plays Valley Catholic and Cottage Grove takes on Hidden Valley.

Warriors close to No. 1

http://www.gazettetimes.com/content/articles/2008/11/15/sports/high_school/2pre02_phsgsoc.jpg Casey Campbell | Gazette-Times Philomath High’s Tegan Grunwald goes for a ball during the Warriors’ semifinal win over Oregon Episcopal School on Tuesday. Philomath faces Valley Catholic today for the OSAA 4A/3A/2A/1A state championship in Wilsonville.

Philomath girls play for their first state championship today

By Raju Woodward Gazette-Times Reporter (11-15-08)

There will be no dramatic changes for the Philomath High girls soccer team. Nor will there be an inspiring pre-game speech made by PHS coach John Williams before his squad takes the field for today’s 4A/3A/2A/1A state championship game at Wilsonville High School.

“If anything, I’m trying to get them to enjoy the moment,” Williams said after Wednesday’s practice at Corvallis High. “It’s a special place. There are very few teams that get to this point, so we’ve been talking about just enjoying the fact that they are here and come ready to play our way.”

The Warriors’ way has worked well so far. They went undefeated in the regular season, tying only once. After a sluggish performance in their playoff opener against Catlin Gabel, the Warriors rebounded by shutting out Gladstone and Oregon Episcopal to earn a berth in today’s championship game. Game time is 3:30 p.m.

It took awhile for the feat to sink in for many of the Warriors, who will be playing for a state title for the first time in program history. The buzz in the hallways at school on Wednesday helped, though. Classmates and staff were taking about the girls’ accomplishment.

“(Tuesday) I couldn’t really believe it,” sophomore Andrea Whiteman said. “People for so long have been trying to do this, but we are the first people from Philomath to do this for soccer. I guess we have to keep going since we made it this far.”

Standing in PHS’s way today is another undefeated squad, Valley Catholic. The Valiants are the first seed from Special District 1 and are coming off a shootout victory over Cottage Grove in the semifinals on Tuesday. They play in the same district as Catlin Gabel and O.E.S. While the Warriors had the luxury of playing those two teams earlier in the season, that’s not the case with Valley Catholic.

Beyond the Valiants’ record, recent playoff history and their basic formation, Williams said he didn’t know a lot about his squad’s opponent.

That’s why he said the Warriors will prepare for Saturday’s match the same way it did for Gladstone and O.E.S., which basically comes down to playing the game the way they know how to play. So the biggest thing Williams wants his team to do is to come out calm and remain calm throughout the match.

With a state championship on the line, the girls admitted it will be difficult not be a little nervous or jittery at the beginning, but they have done a great job of keeping things light-hearted and fun all season, no matter the situation. Take the O.E.S. game for example.

Whiteman was guarding an O.E.S. player who pulled her shorts up her back as she turned with the ball, because she was getting frustrated by Whiteman’s defense. It was embarrassing, but it also provided some much-needed humor during an intense match.

“Even when we are in super serious situations like these playoff games or shootouts, although we are serious, we are still having a good time,” Whiteman said. “You can’t take everything super seriously.”

At the same time, the girls are super-focused on winning Saturday’s game. Senior defender Renay Norman said the Warriors’ goal from the first day of camp was not just to make it to the finals, but win it all.

So that’s part of the reason the team was practicing at CHS this week. It hasn’t played on turf much this season; the game against Gladstone two weeks ago was the first. Playing on turf is much different than on grass, so the team wanted to get used to the variations, which could be positive and negative.

“It’s a little bit of a disadvantage,” Norman said. “You really have to get your foot on the ball to stop it. It’s kind of an advantage also, because we have really fast forwards. So if the ball is going with them they can run with it, instead of having to touch it.”

Added Williams: “It plays a lot faster. (Tuesday), the balls got heavy and then the grass slowed them down even more. So you have to adjust how you pass and your touches have to be better. But we hope to use the speed of the turf to our advantage, but we’ll have to see if it goes that way.”

But other than that, Williams isn’t too worried about today. He thinks his team is ready to come out strong and continue making history. He said what makes this year’s squad stand out from his talented PHS squads of the past is its ability to pass to feet. But if you ask the players they will give you a variety of answers, everything from work ethic to chemistry.

“I think it’s our heart this year,” sophomore Joceline Howard said. “Our team has grown up a lot more, we only have one freshman. We have grown really well as a team. Most of us have played together for more than five years. So we have practiced really well this year and become very strong.”

Admission to today’s championship match at 3:30 p.m. is $8 for adults, $5 f or students.

Warriors pick up first state title

http://www.gazettetimes.com/content/articles/2008/11/16/sports/high_school/1prep01_phs.jpg Casey Campbell/Corvallis Gazette-Times Philomath High’s Sierra Grunwald (8) and Ramie Sartnurak celebrate after the first of Grunwald’s two goals during the Warriors’ 2-0 victory over Valley Catholic to win the OSAA 4A/3A/2A/1A girls soccer state championship in Wilsonville.

By Raju Woodward Corvallis Gazette-Times (11-16-08)

WILSONVILLE - It was the Ramie Sartnurak to Sierra Grunwald show on Saturday. The Philomath High sophomores teamed up to score two goals, propelling the Warriors to a 2-0 victory over Valley Catholic in the 4A/3A/2A/1A girls soccer state championship game at Wilsonville High.

The win gave PHS (18-0-1) its first state title in program history after several near-misses in recent years and was especially sweet for Warriors coach John Williams, who has been at the helm of the program for 13 seasons.

But it didn’t come easy for PHS, which battled nerves the first 20 minutes of the match and a stubborn Valley Catholic squad. And despite outshooting the Valiants 4-2 in the first half, they came up just short of converting several of those opportunities and went into the half tied at 0. The girls, however, said they never got frustrated.

“I think we were just nervous and excited at the same time,” senior Sadi Stouder said. “We thought we were wearing them down at the end of the first half. So we were like, ‘We can do this.’ So we just pulled together.”

Sure enough, the Warriors came out much more aggressive in the second half, finally taking advantage of their team quickness on the turf at Randall Field to put pressure on Valley Catholic. Prior to Saturday’s match, Williams had wondered if his team would be able to use the turf to its advantage.

“We knew we had the speed to beat them,” Williams said. “We talked about that at halftime. So we just needed to get the ball diagonally to the outside and just beat them to the corner and make the goalkeeper position for the ball and then pass the ball back.”

That’s exactly what Sartnurak and Grunwald did. Thirteen minutes into the second half, Sartnurak got the ball on a breakaway and passed it over to Grunwald, who put the ball past Valiants goalkeeper Hana Wright.

“I was just in the right place at the right time,” Grunwald said. “Ramie’s pass was amazing. It was right to me. All I had to do was kick it into the net.”

The two connected again 17 minutes later in the 70th minute to give PHS some much-needed breathing room and pretty much seal the win. This time, Sartnurak centered the ball and Grunwald put it inside the far left post. Grunwald said the play was pretty similar to her first one, but that she had more room to work with the ball the second time around.

PHS finished with 10 shots in the second half and 14 total for the match. Stouder had seven of those, which combined with her strong play in the midfield, earned her player of the game honors for the Warriors. She played a pivotal role in both goals.

“The play comes from the midfield,” Stouder said. “I’ll send it to Ramie and she’ll break down the defense and Sierra finishes it off. It’s an all-around effort.”

The victory backed up another strong performance by the PHS defense, which allowed three shots the entire match, including just one in the second half. Warriors’ keeper Hope Gunter didn’t even have to make a save during the game. PHS didn’t allow a goal in its last three playoff games, after giving up one to Catlin Gabel in its postseason opener.

“It’s just very surreal right now,” senior defender Renay Norman said. “We just played our game. We bent sometimes, but we never broke. Our defense was amazing.”

And as that championship trophy made its way around the overjoyed PHS coaches and players, Stouder summed up the Warriors’ storybook season perfectly.

“This Philomath Warriors team didn’t know how to lose,” Stouder said as she rushed to mob her teammates again.

Philomath 2, Valley Catholic 0

Second half

PHS: Sierra Grunwald (Ramie Sartnurak), 53:00

PHS: Sierra Grunwald (Ramie Sartnurak), 70:00

Philomath soccer title was years in the making

http://www.gazettetimes.com/content/articles/2008/11/19/sports/high_school/6prep01_phs.jpg Casey Campbell | Gazette-Times The Philomath High girls soccer team celebrates after capturing their first state championship over Valley catholic on Saturday.

By Raju Woodward Gazette-Times Reporter (11-17-08)

Philomath High girls soccer coach John Williams took a step back from the sidelines during the waning moments of last Saturday’s championship game against Valley Catholic.

As his assistants continued to shout instructions and his reserves cheered wildly, Williams stood calmly.

He wasn’t nervous. With a 2-0 lead, the Warriors were going to capture their first state championship. Most likely he was savoring the long-awaited moment.

And who could blame him? In his 13 seasons as PHS head coach, he built the Warriors into one of the state’s strongest 4A programs. Yet, they had come up just short of winning the big one.

As the final buzzer sounded and the Warriors ran to middle of the field to celebrate, Williams watched the scene unfold. You could tell he was overjoyed that all the time and effort he’d poured into the program had finally paid off.

Moments later, he recalled his earlier days at the helm, when there wasn’t enough talent surrounding his stars to make deep runs in the playoffs. So he dedicated Saturday’s win to all those former standouts.

“The trophy that’s going around here is dedicated to all the girls that have ever played Philomath High girls soccer,” Williams said. “Over the years, we just kept working harder and harder so we could have the skills to support the players.

“There have been a lot of players who have worked hard to get to the level to support our top players.”

Williams said he had 20 top players this season and that any reserve could have contributed to the victory. PHS’s talent and depth illustrated how far the program has come under Williams, who coached many of his players since middle school.

“John is such an amazing coach,” sophomore Sierra Grunwald said. “He’s been coaching me since sixth grade and he’s the reason we have such an amazing program. I mean we finally made it here and got it.”

Grunwald and several other players said they were as excited for Williams as for themselves because of his commitment to them and the program, and that being the team that finally won it all was an honor.

Williams said he knew this year’s squad could be special, because it worked so well together to improve throughout the season. It didn’t take long for his team to realize he was right; try September 12, to be exact.

“I think the day I knew they were special and they knew is when we beat Oregon Episcopal School,” Williams said. “It was like, ‘Wow, we just beat a team that was a playoff team 8-1.’ That was only our second game. I think after that day, they rededicated themselves to working ever harder to truly be the best they could be.”

Philomath was nearly perfect the rest of the way; the only blemish was a 2-2 tie against Westside Christian on Oct. 16. Philomath got revenge eight days later, defeating the Eagles to earn the No. 1 seed from Special District 4. PHS ended the regular season 14-0-1.

The Warriors knocked off OES 3-0 on Nov. 11 to earn a trip to the state finals. What may have been more significant was a Nov. 4 shootout victory over Catlin Gabel in their playoff opener. In previous years the Warriors lost all four times they faced Catlin Gabel in the playoffs, including two times in the semifinals.

In many ways, 2008 was much like 2007, except for the ending. It was undefeated in the regular season, then was routed by Hidden Valley in the quarterfinals. So on the first day of practice the returning players made it their goal to win a championship, which made Saturday’s victory even sweeter.

“It’s amazing,” senior Sadi Stouder said. “We haven’t lost a game all season. So we seniors got to out on a perfect ending.”

Added Williams: “It’s so awesome that they could work so hard together and accomplish a goal they set a long time ago.”

Stouder said she expects PHS to continue moving upward now that winning a championship shows anything is possible. Don’t expect any big changes from Williams; he’s simply happy to have finally won the championship that established PHS as team to be reckoned with.

“I don’t think it changes anything with my program,” Williams said. “What it does is show that girls soccer in Philomath is a good thing.”