The Staples field hockey team was rifling shots on the Fairfield Ludlowe cage early and often on Friday afternoon, yet the Falcons kept Staples off the board through two halves of FCIAC field hockey action.

In a hard-played rematch of last season's Class L playoff bout in which the Lady Wreckers emerged with a narrow win, it was another even-keeled showdown this time around.

With several close calls that came up empty on the offensive end, the persistence of a young Staples offense paid off late in overtime, when sophomore Shelby Phares corralled possession, spun around, and slammed in the winning goal to lift the Lady Wreckers to an empathic road win at Fairfield Ludlowe.

"It's an amazing feeling, as this is my first year playing at the varsity level," said Phares, who was mobbed by her teammates moments after her electric game winner with 58 seconds left in the sudden death overtime period. "I just maintained control and shot it as hard as I could and thankfully it went in to get us the win."

Prior to overtime, it was a back-and-forth tilt all afternoon long.

"We have a real rivalry against them both on the field as well as off-the field," said Staples senior captain goalkeeper Jenn Hoets. "We knew it was going to be a tough game like it always is against Ludlowe. I'm excited to get my first shutout of the season and Shelby (Phares) really came up big for us in overtime."

Two teams playing with plenty of passion were extremely evenly matched, as evidenced by the score as well as the statistics. Staples owned a slight 10-9 advantage in penalty corners taken, while Hoets came up with a gem in net for the Lady Wreckers.

After a late flurry of penalty corners late in regulation rendered several near-misses, Staples Coach Cecily Cowburn kept the faith in her players as the two teams entered sudden death overtime.

"We have some very talented young players on our roster, and our front line is pretty young but they are capable of making big plays for us," said Cowburn. "I had confidence in them and felt like they would rise to the occasion in such a big spot, and Shelby did just that for us."

Late in regulation, Fairfield Ludlowe was granted a golden opportunity by way of a penalty stroke following a push by a Lady Wreckers defender on the Falcons Elise Perazzini.

However, Perazzini lifted the penaty stroke wide left of its destination, leaving the shutout intact for Hoets. On the other end, Fairfield Ludlowe Jillian Moffett supplied several crucial saves, two of which came in overtime, only to surrender the game-winning shot off the stick of Phares with a mere 58 seconds remaining in sudden death.

With the win, the Lady Wreckers improved to a 3-1 early season record while dropping the Falcons to 2-2 overall.