Following a 3-0 loss to Douglas in the 2021 Division 5 semifinals, the Westport boys’ soccer team dived headfirst into training.
Every morning this past summer, the Wildcats went through an hourlong voluntary workout of runs, pushups, and core work at Horseneck Beach.
“We were really amped up, we could see what we could do, the big picture of a state championship,” said senior captain Hunter Brodeur. “It really carried us into the summer and into the season to outwork everybody.”
The unrelenting work paid dividends. The Wildcats finished the regular season with a 17-0-1 record, outscoring foes, 81-7, with Brodeur supplying 35 goals and six assists.
“You just put it into space and he’ll get there,” said senior captain Antonio Dutra Africano. “He’ll get to the ball and we’ll provide an option for him.”
The Wildcats (16-0-1) won the Mayflower Athletic Conference for the first time since 2014. A day after clinching the MAC title, the Wildcats ran up the hill by the high school baseball field 20 times, besting their previous record of 15.
“The senior leadership led that,” said fifth-year Westport coach Chris Parker. “They’re an incredibly special group of young men. I’ve been incredibly blessed to have these young men of character.”
Dutre Africano plays like an extra coach on the field and is an impressive distributor with nine goals and 11 assists. Senior captain Coltrane McGonigle (5 goals, 5 assists) wins contested balls. Sophomore keeper Noah Amaral, a starter since seventh grade, has recorded 11 shutouts this season. The countless hours of hard work have meshed the Wildcats into a cohesive bunch, emotionally invested in one another’s success.
“Every single kid on this team, I’ve grown up with,” said McGonigle. “It’s one of the most underrated things about going to a small school: Everyone knows everyone.”
Fifth-ranked Arlington also drew upon last season’s gut-wrenching end, a second-round exit in the Division 1 tournament. After a 14-0-3 season, the Spy Ponders championed the Middlesex League behind a balanced effort.
Senior attacking midfielder Aidan Sheehan leads the team with 12 goals. Juniors Abraham Donnolly (9 points) and Luke Puritan (7 goals) stepped up into higher roles this season, supplying secondary offense.
“We’ve been really consistent,” said Arlington coach Lance Yodzio. “The part that has stuck out in my mind, the cases that we’ve tied, the team responded as if we’d lost those games. I’ve realized that for them it’s a good thing, they were able to identify the stuff that we couldn’t do in the tournament. These are learning opportunities and moments that we can improve on and take that into the tournament.”
Senior captain Barnabas Kiss anchors a backline that has only conceded 10 goals. Alongside junior Rowan Egan, the center backs provide an intensity that sparks the team.
Practices are regimented and feature no nonsense and players listen to music individually on the bus rides to away games, mentally preparing for the upcoming contest. For a storied program, the taste of success led to a hungry group of younger classmen to take over starting spots. Workouts over the summer were well attended, leading to nearly 100 people trying out for the team.
“This is our final hurrah, me personally, I’m really committed to this right now,” said Kiss. “It’s a different feeling this year. It has to get done. We’ve been in situations like this before, we know what it’s like. The mentality is to lock every little thing down, polish the brass, and make sure that we’re firing on all cylinders.”
Other undefeated teams include St. John’s Prep (17-0-1), which owns a number of top-notch wins, including victories over Needham and St. John’s Shrewsbury, the top two ranked teams in the MIAA Division 1 Power Rankings. No. 4 Pembroke (17-0-0) and No. 8 Newburyport (18-0-0) cruised through their respective Patriot League and Cape Ann League schedules and appear primed for a run in the Division 3 playoffs. No. 10 Dedham (15-0-3) has only surrendered five goals in their conquest of the Tri-Valley League championship.
Cam Kerry can be reached at email@example.com.