The state champion Westport Wildcats — doesn’t that sound good! — received a hero’s welcome Saturday night when they returned home after knocking off Douglas on the road to …
The state champion Westport Wildcats — doesn’t that sound good! — received a hero’s welcome Saturday night when they returned home after knocking off Douglas on the road to claim Westport’s first-ever state championship in any sport.
Though it was well past dark, hundreds of residents converged on the high school to greet the team as they arrived home following the nail-biter 1-0 decision in Leominster. When the long procession of police cruisers, fire trucks and other rescue personnel escorting the Westport bus pulled down Old County Road from Route 88, their sirens wailing, the crowd started cheering.
“Can you hear it Westport? This is how Westport celebrates its’ first state championship!” said school committee chairwoman Nancy Stanton Cross as she filmed the procession pull in the school’s front drive. “Here they come! They should be celebrated!”
The celebration began hours earlier, when Nyzaiah Pacheco’s penalty kick after two indecisive overtime periods gave Westport a 4-2 penalty kick edge, enough to secure a 1-0 victory for Division V eighth seeded Westport over the number two seeded Tigers. Also scoring penalty kicks were Carter Couto, Ben Novo and Will Quinlan.
“All I was thinking (was) that I was going to put it away,” Pacheco told a reporter after the game. “This feels so good right now.”
It was a storybook season for the Wildcats, who had never made it to a state final before Saturday, though they went as far as the Final Four in 2021 and the Elite Eight last year. At 22-0-1 this year, the Wildcats’ record could not have been much better, and the team dispatched the first, second and fourth seeded teams on their road to their final victory.
Apart from heads-up play on both sides of the ball, Saturday’s victory was also due in large part to Noah Amaral, the Wildcats’ standout goalkeeper. The win — and his eight stopped shots Saturday — earned him his 16th shutout on the season.
“Two years ago when we lost to Douglas, it hurt me so bad," he told the Herald News after the game. "To be here and win a state championship means everything to me. I did this for every single one of the boys on the team, every senior that graduated and for the whole town."