As warm winds whipped around the western suburbs Tuesday night, the Westhill and Bishop Ludden boys soccer teams began to trek through the Section III playoffs - and both advanced with convincing shutout wins in the opening round.
The Warriors, as the no. 5 seed in Class B, stomped all over no. 12 seed Adirondack in the first half on its way to an 8-0 victory, while the Gaelic Knights, starting out as the no. 6 seed in Class C, handled no. 11 seed Waterville 3-0.
Westhill came into the sectional tournament playing its best soccer of the season. That, plus the fact that Adirondack had to make a long bus trip from Boonville and would take some time getting loose, gave the Warriors an early chance to pounce - which it did.
Before the first half was done, Westhill had found the net seven times, a constant assault that featured, among other things, Kyle Hunt working his way to a three-goal hat trick. Barak BenYehuda and Tim Sheridan provided the passes, each finishing with two assists.
Hunter White found the net twice, while Anthony Scaravillo, Sean Sobotka and Pat Schoenborn earned one goal apiece. Conor Powell, Nate Chapman and Alex Conway had one assist apiece. Westhill improved to 12-3-1 and will face no. 4 seed Mount Markham in the Class B quarterfinals later this week.
Just down the road, at Bishop Ludden, the Gaelic Knights did not put together anything close to the blitz Westhill offered to Adirondack - but it didn't have to, either.
The Gaelic Knights stayed patient while Waterville goalie Alex Strohmeyer kept making stops, ultimately finishing with 18 saves. Still, Ludden battled its way to a 1-0 halftime lead, then added two more goals in the late stages for a cushion.
Tyler Young and Tom Righi led the way, each finishing with one goal and one assist. Jared Taylor got the other goal, with Nick Walker contributing an assist. Kelly Beaudoin stopped all five shots he faced. Ludden will travel north to face no. 3 seed Thousand Islands in the Class C quarterfinals, with the winner getting Tully or Cooperstown next week in the semifinal round.