MERIDEN - With the score 3-0 at the half and the Falcons generating few opportunities on the offensive end, it seemed as if No. 1 seed Old Lyme was going to run away with a blowout victory in Tuesday’s Class S state semifinal.
That didn’t happen though, as No. 4 St. Paul stood strong and put in a pair of second half goals. The Falcons went on to lose, 4-2.
“I told the kids that this is going to be a character builder in the second half,” St. Paul head coach Jim Husbands said. “You’re going to show me what kind of character you have as a team. Are you going to the fold the tent and give up and lose 4-0? No, they came back. They scored two goals. They fought to the very end and I have no problems with the effort.”
Having made it that far and the invaluable experience picked up for the younger players on the team sets the Falcons program up for a bright future.
“This was our opportunity to play in a game of this significance,” Husbands said. “Having played it now I’m a big believer in the been there and done that theory. Have we ever been there? No. So it’s new to us and it’s a new experience and we have to get accustomed to it. Next year it’s like okay we’ve been here.”
Losing two key seniors and the captains of the team will be tough to replace, with Kendall Davis moving on to play collegiate soccer at Belmont Abbey and fellow senior captain Briana Senese being recruited by Belmont Abbey and the University of Tampa.
“I don’t want to talk about them because I don’t want them to leave,” coach Husbands said. “It’s going to be really hard to replace both of those kids. When you look at Kendall, she’s probably scored at least 50 perecent of our goals this season, if not more, and I’ve said this from this from the very beginning that I think Briana is the heart and soul of this team.”
Both going on to play at the next level of soccer reflects well on the program.
“That shows how much this program has improved to be able to say that I’m going to have my two seniors playing at the next level next year,” coach Husbands said.
While losing two key players is hard, the Falcons also bring back nine starters, including keeper Nina Zwolinski.
She will return after completing a stellar campaign in her first year.
When Zwolinski is on top of her game so is St. Paul.
“I’m looking forward to the next three years with her because I think that she’s just going to get better and better,” Husbands said.
Also returning for St. Paul next year will be junior Julia Dess, who was lost for the season due to a broken foot.
Carolyn Del Debbio, Hannah Rinehart, Emma Cretella, Addison Davis and Catherine Ciampi will also be seniors next season.
Entering their sophomore years with Zwolinski will be Romi Bagdasarian, Hannah Stanford and Delaney Jordan.
“The talent on this team is amazing,” Kendall Davis said. “We have a lot of strong freshmen, strong sophomores and juniors and I think there’s going to be some good incoming freshmen too.”
Without Kendall Davis and Senese the question will become who’s going to take that role and step up as leaders for the Falcons.
“I think it can get a lot better,” Kendall Davis said. “They just have to step up next year and realize that they have to take over leadership.”
Dan Orencole can be reached at or On Twitter: @OrencoleDan