New faces yielded the same result as the Westport soccer team crushed Carver 7-1 in a non-league home game to kick off their 2023 campaign on Wednesday night. Will Quinlan scored 2 goals, Tommy Bernard scored a goal and tallied 2 assists, Marcos Dutra Africano, Travis Carvalho, Carter Couto and Nick Stanton all scored for the Wildcats who reached the Division 5 Elite Eight last season and the Final Four the season before.
“Honestly, I thought we were going to be weaker after losing our 2022 senior class,” said junior goalkeeper Noah Amaral. “But we have so many players stepping up. I think this year will be really special and we can go on a run and put up a fight for the chip.”
Losing offensive powerhouses, striker Hunter Brodeur (38 goals last season, 34 in 2021) and midfielders Noah Sowle, Antonio Dutra Africano, Coltrane McGonigle and others, hasn’t hurt as much this year due to the growth spurt of junior Will Quinlan who will take over for Brodeur at striker and a core group of midfielders who are stepping up and flourishing in head coach Chris Parker’s system.
“Will has improved tremendously,” said Coach Parker. “His body has changed. He has turned into a man.”
Quinlan may not be the speedster that Brodeur had been, but he is dangerous in the air and has a strong, accurate kick.
“He’s been a beast while playing over the summer,” he said. “At times he was the best player on the pitch.”
Coach Parker in his seventh season is playing the same “wide and glide” style of offense.
“It’s one of our principles of play,” he said.
And new outside midfielders, transfer student Nyzaiah Pacheco, Travis Carvalho and Carter Couto have both speed and the skill to beat opponents on the outside and are able to penetrate and score.
“The outside midis this year are just as good. There was really no drop off,” he said.
The outside group will be complimented by senior central midfielders Tommy Bernard, Ben Novo and sophomore Landen Novo.
“They are defensively minded and are strong through the middle,” Coach Parker said. “When you have two out of your three starting midfielders come back and your starting center backs come back and your starting goal keeper come back, that’s how teams are built.”
The strength of the team are senior center backs Ryan Borges and Marcos Dutra Africano and Amaral the Wildcats’ fifth year, junior goal keeper, who is an athletic mavin that has been between the pipes since seventh grade.
“Noah is our quarterback. He takes command,” said Coach Parker. “He has really developed and is so good. He has perfected all of the little things. He is capable of standing on his head and winning games in the tournament.”
Borges and Dutra Africano are studs that are able to thwart opponents’ offensive attack. They are complimented by left back Zach Lopes and right back Nick Stanton.
“Regardless of the division, I don’t know if there are two better center backs,” Coach Parker said. “And Zach and Nick are dangerous offensively, because we have our outside backs attack,” Coach Parker said. “They are defensively responsible, but they are attack minded too.”
Coach Parker has chosen Bernard, Dutra-Africano and Ben Novo as his senior captains to help lead the Wildcats this season.
“Ben had the biggest goal since I have been coaching here,” he said of Novo who scored the game winner in the 2021 Elite Eight to jettison the Westport into the Final Four. That year.
“That one was special,” he said.