BRISTOL - Without Julia Dess to begin the season, the St. Paul girls soccer team was already down a key scorer.
Fast forward to now and the Falcons are without both all-state goalkeeper Nina Zwolinski and top midfielder Addison Davis for the remainder of the season as well.
St. Paul’s 2-6-2 record is indicative of a team without its best players.
“I challenge anybody in this league to take your top three players off your roster and not have it affect your team in a drastic way like it’s affected us,” Falcons head coach Jim Husbands said. “Particularly with us having to play freshmen instead of seniors, now all of a sudden you lose a lot of experience that you just can’t make up.”
Without the three key players, the Falcons have turned to their youth and one freshman has stood out more than others.
It’s a familiar last name for those who follow the St. Paul program, Davis.
And while wearing her sister Kendall’s No. 10 may have added some pressure to the freshman striker Reagan Davis, it has yet to show. Davis is leading the team with 10 goals and already on pace to break her Kendall’s scoring record at the school.
While the comparisons are there, the youngest Davis isn’t focused on what her sister did at the school. Rather, the she is working to build her own legacy wearing the red and blue.
“I’m trying not to live in her shadow even though I’m wearing her jersey and playing the same position,” Davis said. “It’s pressure definitely but I’m trying not to think of it.”
Still, with her sister being such an impressive player on the field, Davis picked up on some of her tendencies.
“From just watching her I learned to do what she does,” Davis said. “She always got out wide and made runs and calls for the ball and tries to tell people to pass the ball to where you want it but not get mad if they don’t.”
Husbands, who has coached Kendall, middle sister Addison and now Reagan even sees the similarity in the two strikers.
“I’ve seen a lot of things in games that I wonder whether I’m looking at Reagan or looking at Kendall because she likes to take the ball out down the sideline, cut the ball back in and she’s done that a lot. Kendall made a living on that,” Husbands said. “She’s gonna be good. I think she’s already ahead of Kendall’s goal total when she was a freshmen so if she continues to improve who’s going to say what could happen.
With her offensive ability already known, Davis has set the tone for what is set to be a standout career at the school.
“It’s a little nerve-racking going out as a freshman and starting but it’s been fun scoring a lot of goals for the team and contributing,” Davis said. “Now with my sister [Addison] gone there has to be somebody to take over the role of her because she was the strongest player on the team.”
The freshman’s play on the field has already thrust her into a leadership role and that only grew with the multitude of impact season-ending injuries the Falcons faced.
Without the top players on the team due to injury, Husbands still wants a postseason appearance for St. Paul.
But that doesn’t mean the next four years aren’t on the back of his mind.
“You look at Arianna Griffin, Zoey Rubins, Dani [Regan] as well as Reagan and these are very talented freshmen,” Husbands said. “They may not experience the kind of success they would like this year, but I’ll guarantee what they’re learning this year is going to be invaluable for them next year and the year after that. When they’re seniors they’re going to be wicked. They’re going to be really tough.”
Dan Orencole can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org