LEOMINSTER — Nyzaiah Pacheco and the No. 8 Westport boys soccer team were on the verge of school history in Saturday’s Division 5 state final game.
With a goal advantage in penalty kicks following two indecisive overtimes, all that stood between Pacheco and the net was Douglas goalkeeper Gavin Dualtieri. The Wildcat junior answered with the biggest goal of the season.
“All I was thinking that I was going to put it away,” said Pacheco after his kick enabled Westport to win the PK battle, 4-2, and the game 1-0 over No. 2 Tigers. “This feels so good right now. The whole team contributed to this game.”
The Wildcats (22-0-1) captured the school’s first state championship in any sport. The Westport’s boys basketball team in 2004-05 went to the state final game but lost to Ipswich. In 1977, boys won the Southeastern Massachusetts Conference league soccer championship.
Westport’s Nyzaiah Pacheco celebrates after scoring the winning goal in penalty kicks to defeat Douglas in the Division 5 state soccer final.
The Wildcats had to beat the No. 1, 2 and 4 seeds en route to their state title.
Beside Pacheco’s goal, Ben Novo, Carter Couto and Will Quinlan each scored goals for the Wildcats in the PK round.
The performance of the game belonged to junior goalkeeper Noah Amaral, whose saves in regulation helped Westport stay afloat. Amaral, who stopped eight shots, collected his 16th shutout of the season.
“This feels amazing,” an emotional Amaral said. “Two years ago when we lost to Douglas, it hurt me so bad. 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.”
Douglas goalie Gavin Gualtieri, left, and teammate Colin Loehr sit dejected after the Tigers fell in a shootout to Westport in the D5 state boys’ soccer final on Saturday at Doyle Field.
Then there’s head coach Chris Parker, who was hired in 2017 by former athletic director Jason Pacheco. Parker’s first season netted him just three wins. Now the seventh-year mentor has reached the mountain top.
“It feels amazing, it really does,” Parker said. “It’s been five months of work and these guys have been so devoted. They really committed in the offseason. This is their second season in a row playing together. They’ve showed up everyday. We always say our practices is going to be more grueling, in terms of battling, than in most of the games. [Our] kids are battle ready. They are just tireless workers.”
History made: Westport boys soccer punches first-ever ticket to state finals
The defensive backs of Ryan Borges, Marcos Dutra Africano, Ben Cross and Zachary Lopes kept the Tigers at bay all night long.
“This feels better than I ever imaged,” Borges said. “It is not this year, but all the years we put in. To win this one was really special.”
Douglas (14-3-5) missed a golden opportunity to get the game’s first goal with 10:20 left in the first half when Chris Dame’s shot ricocheted off the crossbar. But that was as close as the Tigers came in the game.
“I remember the decision to start Noah [Amaral] as a seventh-grader,” Parker said. “It was crazy to start at the varsity level but he had something. We could see it. He works the hardest out of everyone in the offseason. He’s constantly honing his craft in every aspect of goalkeeping. I said to the boys, we don’t have to change one thing in terms of how we take our PK. We’ve very fortunate because we have the best goalkeeper in the state of Massachusetts ready to do his job.”
Senior captain Ben Novo held the state trophy up high as little brother Landen Novo smiled.
“We’ve been going at this since May,” Ben said. “We’ve been working incredibly hard. I can’t thank our coaches and young players coming up. Just to get over the hump is an amazing feeling.”
Herald News and Taunton Daily Gazette sports editor Steven Sanchez can be reached at [email protected]. You can follow him on X (formerly known as Twitter) at @Chezsports.
This article originally appeared on The Herald News: Westport High boys soccer defeats Douglas in Division 4 state final