WELLS - Two years ago, the Westport Eagles and Wells boys soccer teams squared off in the opening round of the Section VII Class D tournament and Wells came away with a 2-1 victory.
Wednesday, the teams met again in an opening-round game at Wells Central School, only this time, the 10th-seeded Eagles pulled off the mild upset as they held off a late-game flurry by the seventh-seeded Indians for a 2-1 victory.
Westport advances to the quarterfinals and will play No. 2 Minerva-Newcomb at 3 p.m. Friday.
Wells’ Jake Earley (21) heads the ball over Westport’s Jack Newberry off a corner kick as teammate Matt Michienzi (23) backs up the play during Wednesday’s Section VII Class D quarterfinal match at Wells. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)
It did not take long for the Eagles to establish an advantage in the opening-round match as senior-captain Jack Newberry delivered Westport's first goal with 1:42 off the clock.
Westport kept the momentum in its favor, pinning the Indians in a defensive posture. The pressure paid off again with 10:52 remaining in the opening half as John Doyle received a centering pass deep in the penalty area and finished the play for a 2-0 advantage.
Wells stepped up its game at that point and used a side-line-to-sideline possession game to spread the Eagles defense, opening up the middle passing lanes.
Class AA First Round
Guilderland 1, La Salle 0
Class B First Round
Tamarac 2, Catskill 1
Ichabod Crane 4, Johnstown 0
Coxsackie-Athens 2, Cairo-Durham 0
Schuylerville 4, Corinth 0
Class C Play-In Games
Middleburgh 2, Saratoga Catholic 0
Mechanicville 2, Canajoharie 1
Class D First Round
Hartford 4, Salem 0
St. Johnsville 4, North Warren 3
Class D First Round
Keene 4, Johnsburg 1
Westport 2, Wells 1
Levi Colson, Jake Earley and Matt Michienzi put quality attempts on net only to be denied by the Eagles' freshman goalkeeper Sam Napper to keep the Eagles' halftime advantage at 2-0.
"We came out flat, and the first 20 minutes is what really hurt us out there," Wells coach Don Beach said. "With 10 minutes left in the opening half, we began shooting on goal."
The Indians carried the momentum they built into the opening minutes of the second half, immediately pressuring the Westport defense.
Napper came up with the save in the opening minutes, stepping in front of Seth Weaver's header.
Wells' pressure paid off with 9:26 remaining when Early drove a pass from Colson past Napper, cutting the Eagles' lead to 2-1.
Playing with a sense of urgency, the Indians went to work for the equalizer and looked to have struck it with six minutes remaining, only to have Napper make a spectacular diving save on Michienzi's hard shot toward the left post.
The Eagles defense held up under the Indians' attack over the final minutes of play to secure the 2-1 victory.
For the match, Wells outshot Westport 18-15 and held a 3-0 advantage in corner kicks. Napper finished with 10 saves to his credit, while Ben Brenan also had 10 saves in net for Wells.
"I was real happy to get a home sectional game," Beach said. "It was a reward to the players for the kind of year we had. I am losing seven seniors but have eight juniors on the team. We will miss the senior leadership and the work ethic, like Levi Colson, who was out there with an injured foot and fought through it. It is sad to see the season end, but we will learn from it and move on."
The Indians finished the season with a 5-8-0 overall record.