The Staples girls lacrosse team didn't finish last season the way it wanted to a year ago when it posted a 8-9-1 record and fell in the FCIAC and Class L first rounds.
With a very strong junior class and more familiarity with second-year coach Pete Najarian, the Wreckers are optimistic they can compete with some of the top tier teams of the league and earn victories in the postseason.
"That's always the goal," Najarian said. "We think we are going to be very well conditioned. We are in a good position relative to others in that we graduated only three starters. Last year we started eight sophomores and they are all back. That was the first time they were on a big stage as a starter."
While Staples didn't graduate as many players as the previous season, a big void will be the departure of midfielder Ryan Kirschner, now at Colgate. Kirchner had 48 goals and 35 assists last season. Staples also lost Sami Bautista and Megan O'Shea to graduation.
This void will create an opportunity for many faces to find the score sheet, and Najarian expects a variety of contributions. Some of that will fall on Paige Murray and Jenna McNicholas, who were both second team All-FCIAC a year ago and are three-year starters.
"(Murray) is quick, she's got very good stick skills and makes good decisions with the ball," Najarian said. "She moves very well both with and without the ball.
"I would expect to see a lot of production out of Paige, Jenna and Meredith but I expect our scoring to be more mixed than it was last year. We have a bunch of girls back that can really play."
Najarian's daughter Nicki will see time in attack. Nicki Najarian is one of many juniors on the Wreckers roster that has grown together over the past several years.
"It's great," Pete Najarian said. "We have a great relationship on the field; the field is the field and home is home. She's been playing with the other juniors since seventh or eighth grade and she's just been one of that gang. They are all good friends and have worked hard together."
Emma Boland will be in the cage for the second straight season.
Staples' schedule is littered with the FCIAC powers -- including the season opener against Ridgefield on April 11. The Wreckers will battle New Canaan, Wilton, Darien and Greenwich in the second half of the season.
"Ridgefield is a big one; we are both trying to break into the top tier," Najarian said. "They beat us last year pretty handily (15-7); we are still angry about that."