By Eliot Schickler

eschickler@bcnnew.com

It wasn't easy but the Staples girls lacrosse team is back on track.

After losing at Wilton last Saturday, Staples knew it had to win at Ridgefield Thursday evening and that although the task was doable, it wasn't easy. Ridgefield is a good team and it's a tough place to play for most road teams in almost every sport.

The Lady Wreckers were pushed by the Lady Tigers in a back and forth game but in the end, they found a way to leave Tiger Hollow with a 14-10 victory. Staples raised its record to 12-1 and will host Westhill Saturday at 1 p.m. Ridgefield dropped to 9-5.

"This game was really big for us," Lady Wreckers Coach Cathy Schager said. "Coming off the loss against Wilton and a few days of practice, we needed a win. We were all frustrated after Wilton that we never really played our game. Today was on opportunity to remedy that."

Staples trailed 5-4 at the break before taking a 7-6 lead in the early part of the second half.

"If anything, it made us play better because it got us to focus and got our heads in the game," Lady Wreckers senior quad-captain Penny Tsilfides said. "We picked it up in the last 10 minutes of the game and in the last five, we played really great."

Tsilfides kept Staples in the game with 13 saves.

"It was just focusing on the ball and I never took my eye off the ball," Tsilfides said. "I had to recognize what might happen."

Playing at Tiger Hollow instead of at the friendly environs of Ginny Parker field didn't faze the goalie.

`I don't think we took the environment into effect," Tsilfides said. "It doesn't affect us because we want to play our best no matter what field we play on."

The Lady Tigers never gave up and the game was back and forth before Lady Wrecker junior Ali Crofts (one goal, two assists, three draw controls, one positive turnover) scored to double her team's lead to two, 11-9.

"I just had to get the girls focus and play with discipline," Schager said.

Junior Jessie Ambrose (three goals, one assist, two draw controls, one positive turnover) was Staples' leading scorer.

"The best thing is once we slowed down our offense, we were able to find their weakness on defense and find the open girl," Ambrose said. "We knew we had to come out strong after Saturday and we played our game."

In the loss to Wilton, the Lady Warriors held junior Maeve Flaherty -- Staples' leading scorer to no points. Against Ridgefield, Flaherty had three goals and two ground balls.

"Moving the ball was important," Flaherty said. "We were all mad about Saturday's game. We were all mad about Saturday's game and we wanted to go out there and play our best. Our team moved the ball better in the second half."

Senior quad-captain Elizabeth Driscoll (one assist, three draw controls) and juniors Adele Mackey (one interception, three ground balls) and Remy Nolan (one interception, two ground balls, one positive turnover) each had two goals. Senior quad-captain Nikki Seo (one goal, two assists) and sophomore Ryan Kirshner (two assists) also contributed on offense.

"It was definitely close, especially in the first half," Seo said. "We had to slow the ball down and take a deep breath [in waiting for the play to materialize] and we accomplished that."

Schager said, "The girls have become very good at moving the ball without panicking when we needed to stall."

It all started with Flaherty, who had nine draw controls.

"The key was to be ball-hungry and to get your stick in the air," Flaherty said.

Senior quad-captain Kelley Hussey (two ground balls), classmate Sammie Hardy (one ground ball) and junior Kenzie Roof (one ground ball, one positive turnover) played well defensively for the Lady Wreckers.

Although Staples feels good about the win, it's not getting too high over it and is maintaining an even keel.

"I think it was very important but we try to value each game equally and take it one game at a time," Seo said. "We try to put our Wilton game in the past. Of course it feels good to win [against Ridgefield] but it's not different than our other wins."