In an area of the state that lacks a deep lacrosse history, the building and growing of the St. Paul boys lacrosse program demanded a sustained commitment to making improvements off of the previous year’s performance.
The 2021 season will go down as a milestone year for head coach Chris Kennedy and the Falcons, who reached the state semifinals for the first time in school history. A proud achievement for the whole roster, the team’s success was further celebrated through the five players who were named to the CHSCA all-state team for Class S.
Attackman Brycen Kennedy, midfielder Christian Decker, defenseman Eric Suzio and goalie Connor Matthews all received first-team all-state honors while senior midfielder Ryan Bogdanski found his name on the second team, closing out a season, and the high school careers of four seniors, on a high note.
“It speaks to the growth of our program because I’ve had a couple of really good players in the past that we had a hard time getting any votes for all-state,” Chris Kennedy said. “We built this over time and they didn’t get that award strictly because of their performance this year. They got that award, in part, as a result of the work they put in over four years.
Brycen Kennedy and Decker were the catalysts for the St. Paul offense as both initiators looking to pass and create their own shot. This is Kennedy’s third time on the all-state team in three seasons of high school lacrosse while Decker earned the honor for the second time. They were two of the team’s leading scorers this season and will look to make similar impacts at the next level as Kennedy will be playing at Eastern Connecticut State University while Decker will play for Springfield College.
Matthews’ performance between the pipes could be considered the most important piece to the Falcons’ successes as he anchored the defense all season. He notched 23 saves in the team’s quarterfinal win over Somers in the Class S tournament, stopping shots from all angles with strong vision and agility.
“I’m really, really happy for Connor to be first team [all-state],” Chris Kennedy said. “I thought he was the best Class S goalie in the state, I thought he was very, very deserving. But when they only pick two kids, you never know. I was very relieved to see that he got that accolade because he deserved it.”
Playing in front of Matthews was Suzio, a sophomore who had no problems adjusting in his first varsity season. His size, strength and speed made him difficult to dodge for opposing defenders and his strong stick skills and passing made him effective when clearing the ball.
Another four-year member of the team, Bogdanski is a talented scoring midfielder who grew with the team during his time in the program. Chris Kennedy highlighted him as someone he was pleased to see be rewarded for his play.
“Ryan Bogdanski was a very good player for us for the last couple of years so I’m glad to see him get recognized,” Kennedy said.
The Falcons’ season ended against thrice-reigning Class S champions St. Joseph by a difference of 15 goals in the state semifinals, but a 13-11 win over Somers the round before and a fortified regular season schedule displayed the talents and potential of this team to yield five all-state players.
“They were successful in their freshman and sophomore campaigns,” Chris Kennedy said. “That put our team in a position where we could schedule better competition and play out in front of the state a little bit more so that when it’s all said and done we put together a decent resume in terms of record and enough coaches had seen us and respect their ability.”
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or email@example.com.