Avon ends Bunnell girls' season

WATERBURY -- The best season in the history of the Bunnell girls soccer team ended in bittersweet fashion.

On the verge of the first state final appearance in school history, the No. 8 Bulldogs ended up on the wrong end of a one-goal game, losing to No. 4 Avon 1-0 Tuesday night at Municipal Stadium in the Class L semifinals.

The Bulldogs finished the year with a school-record 16 wins, playing the second half of the season without their top player -- Bridgette Dolio -- who injured her ankle in the final minutes of a win over Wolcott on Oct. 16. Bunnell rallied to find a place in the SWC tournament final, losing to Barlow to another 1-0 score line.

As coincidence would have it, both Barlow and Avon are nicknamed the Falcons, and each game played out in similar fashion, with the opposition keeping hold of possession, thus denying Bunnell's talented strike tandem of Chelsea Boursiquot and Kacie O'Neill any real chances.

"It's probably a mirror image of it," said Bunnell coach Sebastian Wojdaszka of the SWC final and Tuesday's state semifinal.

Neither side had too many chances throughout the game.

The right side of the Bunnell defense of Lauren Thomas and Michela Greco did a good job snuffing out any Avon forays forward.

Avon finally broke the deadlock in the 56th minute when Kristina Shayler's cross from the right side sailed past a group of players at the near post and found freshman Britt Douglass alone at the back, where she pushed it into the net past Bunnell keeper Laura Collins.

"We did a good job overall, but one silly ball in the middle we lost," Wojdaszka said.

Bunnell (16-5-2) didn't have too many chances to find the equalizer, either, as Avon (16-2-1) held the Bulldogs without a shot on goal in the second half.

The best chance for the Bulldogs came in the 41st minute, when Boursiquot used her speed to break away from the defense. But her touch on the ball was a little long, allowing Falcons' keeper Kaylan Conrad to gobble it up before she could take a shot.

"They are good. I've watched (Boursiquot) twice, this year and last year, and you just can't let her loose. Fortunately, the turf accelerated (the ball) enough to get it to Kaylan," Avon coach Jim Murray said. "All 11 girls on their side play their hearts out all game, so we knew we needed to possess it as much as we could."

The Falcons left Boursiquot little space up front, and eventually she dropped into the midfield to try to see more of the ball.

"They kept somebody on me, so I guess they knew I was a dangerous player," Boursiquot said.

Wojdaszka was proud of his team and how it rallied from the lost of Dolio, who led the team in scoring last season as a junior. Her absence was finally felt against Avon, making the coach play a little "what if?"

"It's something where I don't want to say one player would have made the difference, but she's somebody that we needed today," he said. "We were missing someone in the middle to slow it down and distribute it."

Still, Wojdaszka made sure his team took a positive outlook on what it accomplished this season.

"I told them, `Listen, we did win 16 games this season. We made the (state) semifinals and (SWC) finals, you can't take that away from anybody,'" he said. "Yeah, it stinks we lost in the finals and the semifinals, but they were part of the best season in Bunnell girls soccer history by far."

Class L semifinals

at Municipal Stadium, Waterbury

BUNNELL0 0--0

AVON0 1--1

Records: Bunnell 16-5-2; Avon 16-2-1

Goals: A--Britt Douglass; Assists: A--Kristina Shayler; Goalies: B--Laura Collins (5 saves); A--Kaylan Conrad (2); Shots: B--2; A--6