By Eliot Schickler

eschickler@bcnnew.com

Turn back the clock to 1995. Bill Clinton was President of the United States, the Republicans took over both houses of Congress through their Contract With America, the Houston Rockets won their second straight NBA title, Major League Baseball returned from its strike, Sheryl Crow was in the process of completing her tour on her first album, "The Tuesday Night Music Club," and today's 101.9-FM WRXP alternative rock radio station was WQCD, a contemporary jazz station.

The last time the Staples girls soccer team got past the first round of states was 1995, until Thursday when 11th-seeded Staples won 1-0 at sixth-seeded Naugatuck in the second round of the Class LL playoffs.

"It's definitely a step up and its pretty exciting," Lady Wreckers Coach Nikki Ross, who was a third grade student at Kings Highway Elementary School. "The girls did a great job of being aggressive and going to the ball. We beat them for a lot of 50-50 balls."

In 1995, Staples went beyond the second round of states, it was the Class M champions. The Lady Wreckers, who raised their record to 13-4-3, hope to catch the same magic that carried the 1995 edition and with the way they played against NVL-runnerup Naugatuck (14-4-1), coupled with all the upsets that have happened in the tournament this fall, including the top two teams in Class LL, anything is possible for them.

"I think we can play with any team in the state," Staples senior tri-captain Shannon Moss said. "It [all the upsets] shows that anything can happen."

The Lady Wreckers controlled play in outshooting the Lady Greyhounds, 14-6, and had a 4-2 advantage in corner kicks. Staples could have had more goals but many of its shots sailed wide of and over the net.

"We were able to create a lot of opportunities," Ross said. "Unfortunately, we were only able to get one in but it was good enough to pull out the win."

Naugatuck freshman goalie Cailah Baranowski (eight saves) made some nice saves on senior tri-captain Jaclyn Katz and juniors Abbey Lake and Abby Fagan. Katz, Lake and Fagan got the ball in good position because Moss and classmate Nikki Brill won almost every 50-50 ball in the midfield.

"We went into the game with the mentality that if we won every 50-50 ball, we'd be golden," Brill said. "We definitely had a size advantage over the opponent and we play extra aggressive today because we really wanted to win."

Moss said, "Nikki and are both physical players and their two center midfielders are much smaller than us. We were able to overpower them to win 50-50 balls and distribute to the forwards."

Brill and Moss credit each other for the team's success in the midfield. Moss did an excellent job of containing Lady Greyhound senior Stephanie Santos.

"I was marking No. 10 [Santos], who is one of their best players, and Brill was there to win everything in front of me," Moss said.

Brill said, "Shannon had a great game. She had to be more defensive today and we did a great job of taking it away from the Naugatuck center midfielders."

Two injuries have hampered Staples, who were without senior tri-captain sweeper Kelly Bohling and junior Shannon Lesch, who plays in the midfield and at fullback. Fagan and Crofts alternated between midfield and forward and sophomore Turner Block used her speed well as the starting midfielder. Sophomore Ryan Kirshner also played in the midfield and junior Alex Wiener showed her prowess in filling in for Bohling at sweeper. Senior Lauren Kratky and sophomore Siri Andrews also played well for the Lady Wreckers and kept the ball away from junior goalie Jessie Ambrose (three saves).

"I think the team played well and the whole team stepped it up and played with heart in light of the injuries we have," Bohling said.

Lake scored with 5:51 remaining in the first half, who went 1-on-1 with the defender on the left side and kicked into the right hand corner of the net. Fagan set it up by crossing it from the right side.

"Fagan played the ball through to me, I made a couple of touches and I kicked it in with my left foot," Lake said.

She felt relieved after scoring the goal.

"We had so many chances on goal and we should have scored more goals," Lake said. "We didn't want to leave the field 0-0 or 1-1 and thank God we scored in the first half because we couldn't score in the second half."

Staples held on after Lake's tally.

"It's really exciting," Katz said. "We've been waiting to achieve this since freshman year. We played better than we did on Tuesday [a 2-1 home victory over Southington in the first round of the Class LL playoffs] and we'll take it one game at a time."

The Lady Wreckers will play at third-seeded Hamden on Monday at 5 p.m and enter the game full of confidence. They hope to beat Hamden and two more opponents.

"I think we have a chance to go all the way," Bohling said. "It's looking really good for us."

Katz said, "There's been a lot of upsets and it's anyone's tournament."

Ross said, "The girls have to step it up and play the type of soccer that they are capable of and if they do, they will be fine. I keep telling them that they can't just play a physical game but we have to play smart soccer and we can't afford to make any mistakes."