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Woodburn rallies in second half to force 2-2 draw vs. No. 7 Philomath Warriors

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Woodburn junior Alyssa Padilla and the No. 5 Bulldogs have gone eight straight contests without a loss since their season opener, and hold the top spot in the Oregon West Conference heading into the second half of the league schedule.The No. 5 Woodburn girls soccer team heads into its midseason break on a high note after surviving a pivotal home game against No. 7 Philomath on Oct. 1.

The Bulldogs (7-1-1, 6-0-1) rallied from a first-half deficit to come away with a 2-2 draw against the Warriors.

The Bulldogs followed with a 9-0 win over Sweet Home on Thursday to remain undefeated in the Oregon West Conference. The girls hold a slight edge over Philomath (5-2-2, 5-0-2) as the team transitions to a nearly two-week-long break between league games.

"Because these girls have been working so hard, their bodies need rest," Woodburn head coach Andrea Whiteman said. "This short break will give us time to let our injuries heal and come out strong for the second half of league play."

The Bulldogs had its biggest test of the season heading into last week's game against the Warriors. After opening league play with a 2-2 draw at Stayton, Philomath had shut out its next four Oregon West opponents by a 23-0 margin.

Woodburn was likewise on a hot streak of its own, winning six consecutive games to hold a tenuous lead at the top of the conference.

Looking to win their first league title in nearly 20 years, the Bulldogs needed to avoid a loss to stay atop the league standings. But after going down 1-0 early against the Warriors, Woodburn found itself behind at half for the first time since their season-opening loss to North Marion.

The Bulldogs were not without their opportunities, though. After dominating much of the possession in the first half, Woodburn found an opening in the final five minutes when Myranda Marquez's shot from the right side of the box got past the Philomath goalkeeper and caromed off the far post out of bounds.

Following the break, the Bulldogs found their opportunity when Bailey Castro chipped the ball ahead, skimming the head of the Philomath centerback, resulting in a 1-on-1 for Yahaira Rodriguez, who put the ball in the back right corner of the net.

Rodriguez and the Bulldogs struck again, taking a 2-1 lead when Marquez sent a left-footed cross into the box. Rodriguez gathered the pass and snaked it through the defense for the go-ahead goal.

But the Warriors answered back to knot the game at 2-2, and the two league rivals played relatively evenly for the final 15 minutes of the game.

"We had some funky touches and it took us a bit to find our confidence, but what got us the tie was our refusal to give up," Whiteman said. "We hustled and worked together as a team until the end."

Thursday's game against Sweet Home (2-5-2, 2-4-1) kicked off the second half of league play for Woodburn, which picked up its third shutout in its last four games.

Marquez led the team with four goals and assisted on two more from Rodriguez. Thalia Monroy, Alyssa Padilla and Crystal Garcia each scored in the win.

Cassidy Garibaldo and Rodriguez added a pair of assists, while Castro and Crystal Garcia each tallied one assist.

With five games left in the regular season, the Bulldogs are down to the final stretch and are eager to maintain their lead over Philomath. Should both teams remain neck-and-neck for the last month of play, the regular-season finale at Philomath on Oct. 29 could prove to be the league-deciding game.

But with a 12-day break and four games until their next game against the Warriors, Woodburn isn't looking ahead anytime soon.

"We...have a lot of team bonding planned to enhance our chemistry on and off the field," Whiteman said. "I could not be more proud of the hustle, heart, and dedication this group of players has shown me in the first half of our season."

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