Westport High boys soccer team shows grit and gratitude in Division V Final Four loss


WALPOLE — The town of Westport is best known for its quiet residential areas and large, farming community.

It's even a spot for tourism in the summer along with its nice beaches.

But for the last two weeks, the Westport High School boys soccer team captivated the hearts and soul of the town that was founded in 1670.

Although it wasn't the ending the Wildcats had hoped for in Wednesday's Division V state semifinal 3-0 loss to Douglas, it was a magical ride to the Final Four the nearly 17,000 residents and the team will never forget.

Westport's Nick Arruda lays on the field after Douglas scored their second goal during Wednesday night's Division V semifinal game at Walpole High School..

"It makes me feel amazing that a small school like we have, we can do such a big thing with just a great group of kids," Westport senior Domanick Vitorino said after the game. "I was honored when we got to the Elite 8, never mind the Final Four. So getting here is a huge step for the school. This was one special moment in my life."

Senior Nick Arruda said he couldn't be more proud of his team.

"This team has taken my standards to the next level," he said. "This was an experience I'll never forget and a memory for a lifetime. I can't thank my boys for that.

Westport's Hunter Brodeur makes a play on the ball during Wednesday night's Division V semifinals game against Douglas at Walpole High School.

"Like coach preaches to us every day, making everyone on the team and myself a better young man. That is what I accomplished in my four years playing soccer. I became a better young man and learning how to treat other people on the field."

Vitorino agrees.

"This program is just more than soccer. It's about developing young men of character," Vitorino said. "Coach did a hell of job. He changed not only myself, Nick and others but changed everyone. Even the freshmen coming up."

From the bottom to the top: Westport boys soccer making deep run in state playoffs

Just to be the last four teams standing in Division V out of 82 teams speaks volumes as far as Westport head coach Chris Parker is concerned.

"I don't care what endeavor we're talking about or whatever industry," Parker said. "Whether it is in professional life or an academic or in athletics. To get this level, you better have a large group people with grit. That's what these guys have."

Story continues

Westport's Coltrane McGonigle looks in disbelief as a penalty shot is awarded to Douglas' Aidan Ferguson (on the ground) during Wednesday night's Division V state semifinal game at Walpole High School.

The Wildcats began their journey with a 4-0 win over Taconic High. Three days later, Westport edged KIPP Academy to advance to the Elite 8.

On Monday, the Wildcats won 1-0 over Millis in the final moments to capture a sectional title and trip to the Final Four.

"Westport is a hard-working team and they're well coached," Tigers head coach Alex Ferguson said. "They are very structured defensively. They had a great season."

Westport's Domanick Vitorino makes a play during Wednesday night's Division V sate semifinal game against Douglas at Walpole High School.

As they gathered around each other for the final time this season, Vitorino said they ended with their warrior mentality.

"Our mind is set for purpose. My body is ready for challenge.

"My spirit is primed to sacrifice so that my teammates claim success. I'm a pitch warrior."

How it happened

Both teams slugged it out for nearly 69 minutes before Aidan Ferguson snapped a 0-0 tie with the first of his two goals on the evening.

Ferguson was tripped in the box and was awarded a penalty kick. In one motion, he fired the shot past the dive of Westport goalie Noah Amaral to the far left corner to give Douglas a 1-0 lead at the 68:45 mark.

"I knew I had to hit because (Westport) is dangerous. No. 2 (Hunter Brodeur) is up top and he's fast. They get one and it will be tough to score against them. I knew we needed the momentum."

Westport's Hunter Brodeur, right, is surrounded by several Douglas defenders during Wednesday's Division V state semifinal game at Walpole High School.

Less than five minutes later, Michael O'Toole sent a pass to Owen Gray, who went in all alone of Amaral and tapped a shot by him for a 2-0 lead.

Ferguson capped the scoring with 5:16 remaining with a beautiful, high rising shot that found top corner from 42 yards out to give the Tigers a commanding 3-0 lead.

Wildcat leading scorer Hunter Brodeur was blanketed all night long from the Douglas defenders. Brodeur, who finished with 35 goals, saw double and even triple team for most of the night.

Amaral made several big stops, including a kick save early in the contest to keep it scoreless.

Taking a piece from the alumni

Parker said his team's foundation was built on his first Wildcat team that won just three games.

"Those guys back then set the stage. On my ride up here today, I sent out a group text to all the alum or at least the guys that I coached. I let them know that this run was every bit theirs as much as it is with the guys on the field. They changed the culture of this program. Now, it is going to make my job a little bit easier.

"The younger kids will pick up the mantle and run with it now."

Herald News and Taunton Daily Gazette sports editor Steven Sanchez can be reached at ssanchez@heraldnews.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @Chezsports. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Herald News today.

This article originally appeared on The Herald News: Westport High boys soccer loses Division V state semifinal to Douglas


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