The Staples High girls lacrosse team fought to the finish but came up short in a 15-11 loss to Glastonbury on Saturday at Virginia Parker Field.
The Wreckers fell to 8-6-1 with one game -- Wednesday against Danbury -- left on the regular-season schedule. Glastonbury improved to 11-1.
Down 12-8 midway through the second half, the Wreckers scored three times in a span of 3:24 to get within one. But the Tomahawks pulled away with a trio of late goals -- the first two of which came on free position shots.
"We scored three goals in a row so the momentum was rolling in our direction. They did a very good job possessing at the end. They didn't force passes," said Staples assistant coach Nicole Gerosa, representing the team's coaching staff following the game.
"We had all the momentum," said Kirshner, who led her team with three goals and three assists. "Our heart and hustle were definitely there."
Just 1:03 after the Wreckers pulled to within 12-11, Glastonbury's Taylor Walker was awarded a free position shot and capitalized for a two-goal cushion. Only 56 seconds after that, with just five minutes remaining, Walker scored on another free position shot. Glastonbury got the final goal when Walker set up Brenna McHugh to seal the win with 2:32 left.
Walker had five second-half goals and eight in the game to lead all scorers. Apanovitch made nine saves. Staples goalie Emma Boland played the first half and came up with four saves, while Kirsten Flicker stopped three shots in the second half.
The game was called tightly by officials, and numerous whistles for contact led to a stop-and-start pace and an abundance of free position opportunities for both sides.
"It was called differently than both of us were used to," said Glastonbury coach Kris Cofiell, adding that the officiating wasn't necessarily good or bad. "As a team, you have to adjust to how the officials are going to call the game. Every game is different. Officials look for different things."
"I think it went both ways," Gerosa added.
Kirshner assisted Sami Bautista to make it 12-9 with 10:23 to go. The Wreckers got to within 12-10 with 7:41 left when Kathryn Lesch made a spin move to get through the defense. Her shot attempt was partly blocked and the ball floated high into the air before landing in the back of the net.
"Our girls played really well as a team," Gerosa said. "We were getting defensive turnovers that (resulted in) goals at the other end," she said. "They played the entire game. They never gave up."
Kirshner noted that the Wreckers have played well against tough teams this spring, especially in recent games.
"I think it's a nice confidence booster and I think we all know how good we can be," she said.
The Wreckers are hopeful that challenging opponents, such as Glastonbury and the top teams in the FCIAC, will help prepare them for the postseason. Gerosa noted that Glastonbury provided her team with a different look than it's accustomed to.
"They were very aggressive," she said. "This is the perfect game to have before we go into the playoffs."
Andy Hutchison is a freelance writer
GLASTONBURY 15, STAPLES 11
GLASTONBURY 9 6 -- 15
STAPLES 5 6 -- 11
Records: Glastonbury 11-1; Staples 8-6-1.
Scoring: G -- Taylor Walker (8g, 2a), Sara DiCenso (3g), Courtney Peterson (2g), Katherine Nuzzolo (1g, 1a), Brenna McHugh (1g). S -- Ryan Kirschner (3g, 3a), Meredith Hood (2g), Sami Bautista (2g), Paige Murray (1g, 2a), Nicole Najarian (1g, 2a), Jenna McNicholas (1g), Kathryn Lesch (1g). Goalies: G -- Audrey Apanovitch (9 saves); S -- Emma Boland (4), Kirsten Flicker (3).