Westport soccer stalls at elite eight in bid for championship

Wildcats lose to fourth seeded Gardner 2-1 in double overtime

Story and photos by Richard W. Dionne, Jr. 
Posted 11/15/22

Tears fell from the eyes of Westport players after they lost to Gardner High School 2-1 in double overtime in the MIAA Division 5 state soccer tournament in the elite 8 on Sunday night. The tears …

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Westport soccer stalls at elite eight in bid for championship

Wildcats lose to fourth seeded Gardner 2-1 in double overtime


Tears fell from the eyes of Westport players after they lost to Gardner High School 2-1 in double overtime in the MIAA Division 5 state soccer tournament in the elite 8 on Sunday night. The tears weren’t just for the loss itself, but for the fact that the seniors would not be returning to practice again with their Wildcat teammates and coaching staff. 

“It was tough to go out this way,” said co-captain Antonio Dutra Africano. “Westport has a great program. They will continue to do things without the senior class. But man, it was a tough loss.”

“I love every one of these guys,” said co-captain Hunter Brodeur. “It’s going to be tough not going to practice tomorrow.” 

Gardner midfielder Henry Aguilar scored after midfielder Ricky Ruiz lofted a pass into the box. The ball ricocheted off Westport defenders, found his foot and he kicked it into the back of the net to give Gardner an improbable win after Westport dominated possession for most of the game. Wildcats goalkeeper Noah Amaral had played well in the loss, making seven saves during the game. The sophomore and his defensive group of Marcos Dutra Africano, Ryan Borges, Nick DosVais, Zachary Lopes, Ben Novo, and  Noah Sowle tallied an incredible 13 clean sheets (shut outs) this season season with a record of 19-1-1. The Wildcats won the the Mayflower Athletic Conference for the first time since 2014 and had aspirations of winning a championship with senior striker Hunter Brodeur who scored 39 goals during the season, five off the Westport High School record. 

Brodeur did it again against Gardner. In the frigid cold and sometimes sleeting weather, the senior co-captain broke a 0-0 tie and gave the Wildcats the lead with six minutes left to play. He took an inside dish from senior midfielder Coltrane McGonigle, beat a defender and placed a right-footed kick by Gardner goalkeeper Wyatt Tom, who was out of position for the first time in the game, and into the back of the goal to give Westport a 1-0 lead. 

“Coltrane won a ball at midfield. He slid me a through ball,” said Brodeur. “The keeper was out of position and left the net open. I knew I just had to put it on frame and it was going to go in.” 

Brodeur and the Wildcats celebrated by running over to the bench. Gardner called a time out to regroup.

The celebration was short lived as Ruiz blasted a curving kick over Amaral and into the left corner of the goal to tie the game 1-1 with five minutes left to play. The Gardner goal deflated Westport, but they kept their heads up and battled to a 1-1 tie in regulation. 

Neither team had many chances in the first overtime period. Referees started the second overtime period without a stop in play. Westport had a few opportunities to end the game. McGonigle again slid a pass to Brodeur who got out ahead of a pair of defenders. He blasted a kick toward the right upper corner of the net, but Tom, a tall sophomore, laid out to make the save and keep the score tied. 

“We had so many opportunities,” said Dutra Africano. “I mean, I’m going to think about how many times we could have just capitalized. It was a tough loss.”

“The final eight is a great accomplishment,” said Brodeur. “But we all wanted more and thought we could go all the way. It just was a let down, because we weren’t able to pull through with the win.”

The captains

Coach Parker commended the Wildcats captains, Brodeur, McGonigle and Dutra Africano, on a terrific season. 

“They are special in their own way,” he said. “They are all very skilled and work really hard. The fact that they all lead so differently made them more brilliant as a leadership crew.” 

He said that Dutra Africano may be the smartest player he ever coached. “Antonio is like having an assistant coach on the field at all times,” he said. 

“There’s no better game day competitor than Hunter,” he said of Brodeur. “There’s no one that you rather have leading the team on game day. He is so intense. He’s one of those rare players that comes up big consistently, when you need him too.” 

“Coltrane is our emotional leader. He was the heart of the team,” said Coach Parker. 

He credited his captains for providing moments of fun during practice and in the games. “They counter balance me,” he said. 

Coach Parker told the story of the hill sprints and how the Wildcats had a lull in the schedule after beating West Bridgewater to take the Mayflower crown. 

“I took them over to the hill. I had planned on them just doing ten. They get limited rest intervals. It’s taxing and challenging.” He said.

He challenged them to do one more, but his captains wanted to break the team record of 15. 

“They ended up doing twenty,” he said. “That’s how those guys are. When they come to work. They work. I really appreciated that about them.”

“I’ve been fortunate. They are a bunch of great guys. Right now I’m a little numb. The loss shouldn’t take away from the season that we had.”

Wildcats outlast Boston International 1-0 in the round of 16

Westport beat athletic Boston International 1-0 for a chance to play Gardner the 4 seed. The Wildcats were mired in a chaotic dog fight in the round of 16 at the Sanford Road field on Thursday afternoon. Brodeur scored the games only goal midway though the first half. The senior took a pass from senior midfielder Antonio Dutra Africano and with a great burst of speed, raced around two defenders and blasted a right-footed shot into the back of the goal to put Westport on top 1-0.

“I kind of got in front of one of them, cause there were two of them back there,” said Brodeur, a co-captain. “I was reading him out as I got closer to the goal and just shot it bottom left corner.”

After the goal, the taller, more athletic Boston International team put forth a frenetic aerial attack in an attempt to tie the game. It took everything Westport had including a change in style of play to keep the Lions stymied for the rest of the game. 

“They were great in the air. If anything that’s one of our weaknesses,” said Wildcats co-captain Coltrane McGonigle. “It was a really, really frustrating game.”

“I thought our defense played outstanding,” said Coach Parker. “He changed his formation in the second half. He committed his two forwards high. They were skilled quick kids. We had to change what we were doing.” 

Coach Parker took suggestion from assistant coach Dan DaSilva to use a more traditional style of play in the second half.“I’m fortunate that I don’t coach alone,” said Coach Parker. “I have bright soccer minds in assistant coaches Dan DaSilva and George Stelljes. I lean on these guys.”

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