"Defense wins games" is a saying that's used in most sports.

That adage held true for the Staples girls lacrosse team Wednesday in its 13-5 home win over Conard of West Hartford. Staples raised its record to 6-1 mostly because it smothered Conard (2-2) when it possessed the ball and limited the Lady Warriors to one, second-half goal.

"We had good communication and were able to close out the opponent," said Lady Wreckers co-head coach Stacy Fierce, who mostly focuses on defense. "We were able to limit their opportunities around the crease."

Staples tightly checked the Lady Chieftains, making it tough for them to move the ball. Lady Wrecker senior captain Remy Nolan led the charge with three ground balls, three caused turnovers and an interception. Moreover, Nolan harassed Conard whenever it had the ball and constantly got in good position.

"Being big on defense and having our sticks up at all times is something we work on in practice, and we talk a lot to each other," Nolan said. "I was ready to go today, had my stick up and was aggressive on defense."

Although Staples played solid defense all game, and scored two goals in the first four minutes, it experienced a lull on offense.

More Information

Fact box

The Lady Wreckers never trailed and took a 2-0 lead. Senior captain Ali Crofts set up the first two goals, feeding freshman Jenna McNicholas and senior Maeve Flaherty for the tallies.

Crofts (two assists, two ground balls, one interception) was an offensive catalyst, mostly by using her speed in her runs downfield. She was usually able to blaze by the Lady Chieftain defenders, which created openings for the attack.

"When we didn't have transition, I ran as fast as I could and held it until we could set up a play," Crofts said.

Conard slowly came back and tied it 3-3 with 10:36 remaining in the half. The Lady Chieftains had limited chances to reclaim the lead because Staples controlled the ball for the most part.

However, the Lady Wreckers weren't able to finish because of Conard senior goalie Nora Daly (five saves). When Conard had possession in its offensive end, Staples freshman Amelia Heisler broke up one play and rushed it out. In another sequence, Lady Wrecker junior goalie Kirsten Flicker (eight saves) robbed a Lady Chieftain.

Crofts (four goals) juked past Conard's defenders and flung it home with 4:01 left to give Staples the lead for good, 4-3. Less than three minutes later, Flaherty (three goals, one caused turnover) made it 5-3.

After the Lady Chieftains cut it to 5-4 with 38 seconds to go, it looked like it was going to be a one-goal game at the half. However, Staples senior Jessie Ambrose drew an open space call at the end of the half. Ambrose capitalized and scored to make it 6-4 at the break.

"We knew we started off slowly and needed to score before halftime," Ambrose said. "Remy set me up perfectly [before drawing the open space call]."

The Lady Wreckers took their momentum from that play and scored the first three goals of the second half. Ambrose (three goals, two assists, four draw controls) gave Staples possession by coming up big on draws, and she scored the first two goals of the half. Freshman Paige Murray (one assist, one draw control, three ground balls) scored the other goal.

"We weren't communicating in the first half and talked about it and made adjustments," Lady Wreckers co-head coach Cathy Schager said. "Paige turned it on, Jessie had a very good game, Remy had a good game, and Flicker had a wonderful game."

Conard cut it to 9-5 with 16:05 left in the game, but didn't do any damage the rest of the way. Senior captain Kenzie Roof (one interception) anchored the backfield. Roof was complemented by classmates Katie Kleinberg (one ground ball), Blaney Rotanz (one draw control), Katie Ambrose, junior Deanna Schreiber (one caused turnover) and Heisler.

"The defense did a good job stepping up, and everyone was sliding," Roof said. "It was nice to see the communication."

Nolan said, "We limited our fouls in the 8-meter box. All of their goals in the first half were on fouls. We had a lot of discipline on defense and didn't push."

Jessie Ambrose (three caused turnovers, five ground balls, one interception) frequently checked Daly, which led to Lady Chieftain turnovers.

Sophomore Meredith Hood (two ground balls, one interception) also helped Staples possess the ball.

Crofts answered Conard's last goal. Flaherty (three goals, one caused turnover), senior Adele Mackey and Crofts scored the Lady Wreckers' last three goals.

"We moved the ball well and had good discipline," Crofts said.