Facing a team it defeated in the regular season in the Class L playoffs isn't always a sure recipe for victory. For the 11th-seeded Staples field hockey team, which defeated sixth-seeded Ludlowe 1-0 in double overtime on Sept. 24, it may have been a formula for defeat. For the first time in its history, host Ludlowe defeated Staples in the first round of the Class L playoffs with a 3-1 verdict on Wednesday.

"When you beat a team, there's a sense of overconfidence," Lady Wreckers Coach Cecily Cowburn said. "After playing Darien in the regular-season finale and FCIAC quarterfinals [both 6-0 losses], we sort of lost our mojo."

Ludlowe raised its record to 10-3-3-2 and play at third-seeded Simsbury today at 4 p.m. Staples ended its season at 9-9.

"It was definitely tough," Lady Wrecker senior tri-captain Erica Gendell said. "We weren't mentally focused at the beginning of the game and we didn't take them seriously because we beat them earlier in the season. They beat great teams and we should have been more aware of it. We were prepared but we weren't focused in the first half."

Making this win extra sweet for the Lady Falcons was that Staples eliminated them at home in the qualifying round last year, 2-1. Ludlowe learned a lot from the two losses and came in extra motivated.

"Last year, we took away their chances," Cowburn said. "They are a good team and I hope they go far."

The Lady Falcons outplayed the Lady Wreckers in the first half. Overall, Ludlowe outshot Staples 12-6 and had a 5-4 advantage in penalty corners.

Junior Molly Cullinan slipped in a shot from classmate Mary Deliberti with 24:27 remaining in the first half to give the Lady Falcons a 1-0 lead.

For Delliberti, this is her second straight playoff win over Staples. On June 12, she had a few assists in catapulting Ludlowe's lacrosse team to the Division II title in a 15-9 win over the Lady Wreckers in the championship game, defeating some of the same girls who were on the field in June.

"It's always very nice to beat Staples because they are a contender," Delliberti said.

Following Cullinan's goal, Staples proved Delliberti right with junior Misha Strage pushing the ball down the field and classmate Callie Hiner trying to get some shots off. However, Lady Falcon junior Meredith McGann got in the way and broke up the play. In fact, McGann was a defensive force all game and was instrumental in limiting Staples' offensive opportunities.

Ludlowe countered with Perrazini and sophomore Marissa Leggiadro having many nice rushes up the field to set up the offense. Rissolo and Cullinan also attacked the net and the former set up junior Stephanie Gorab, but Lady Wrecker senior tri-captain goalie Jenn Hoets (nine saves) was there to make the saves. Hoets also robbed Delliberti.

"Personally, I was shaky at the start but when you go down, you can't go down without a fight," Hoets admitted.

Hoets played her best in the team's last three games. "I improved as the year progressed," she said.

But with 10:35 left, the Lady Falcons capitalized on another corner, which Cullinan took and the ball eventually got to Perrazini, who crossed it to Rissolo and Rissolo slammed it home from point blank range.

Following Rissolo's goal, Ludlowe was confident that the win was forthcoming.

"Having a 2-0 lead against a team we haven't ever beat was a gateway to gaining confidence," Rissolo said. "The third goal really solidified it."

Although she wasn't credited in the stats for it, Perrazini set it up with a nice rush up the sidelines. With 3:11 to go, a Staples player picked up the ball and drew a yellow card. This also awarded the Lady Falcons a penalty stroke.

Gorab took the stroke and flung it past Hoets to give Ludlowe a 3-0 halftime lead.

Defensively, Gendell, senior tri-captain Elizabeth Driscoll and junior Caroline Kearney led the Lady Wreckers. Senior Hannah Bjornson and junior Emily Ashken played well in the midfield and Staples picked up its game in the second half.

"I think we're more of a second half team," Cowburn said. "Sometimes, we don't play with a sense of urgency until it's too late."

With 21:26 left in the game, Hiner pushed it home after receiving a pass from senior Ellen Kaminski, who was credited with an assist. Strage, who set up the play with a rush up the field and passed it to Kaminski was also credited with an assist.

"I received a great pass from Ellen and Misha made a great run beforehand," Hiner said.

After Hiner's goal, Lady Falcon senior goalie Jill Moffet and McGann took over with Moffet making saves on Hiner and Strage and McGann stonewalling the offense.

"We were excited and picked it up," Hoets said. "We didn't go as far as we wanted to. I had high hopes and dreams for us to go far."

Cowburn said, "I'm really proud of the team because we changed the style of play and how the team works."

For the seniors, it's tough to see the season end the way it did.

"We had a great year and the team got close," Gendell said. "It's sad not to play with them again."

Driscoll said, "I love the season, the team and the sport and it's sad to see it come to an end so soon but I'm proud of the team because we had a good season and never stopped trying. We were strong and they were strong and I guess luck was on their side. We played well [in the second half] but it's unfortunate we didn't get it into the goal more."