The Staples girls lacrosse team didn't have many problems in its last two meetings with CCC opposition Conard, of West Hartford, outscoring the Chieftains a combined 28-12 in wins in 2012 and 2013.
Saturday's matchup between the two teams was a different story, and Staples required a late rally to secure victory.
Meredith Hood broke an 11-11 tie with a free position goal with 1:33 left that sent the Wreckers to a dramatic 12-11 home win over Conard on Saturday. The Wreckers improved to 6-4 on the season after their third win in four games.
"For a lot of kids that's a scary position to be in," Wreckers coach Pete Najarian said. "(Hood) is absolutely one of the players on our team that I want to have the ball in that situation."
Hood, who scored three goals, took up space at the top of the arc and charged towards Conard goalie Morgan Chase before uncorking a shot that went top shelf.
"I heard my coaches to look at the defender and that's how I place the ball," Hood said. "I don't think about it too much, I just knew we needed to get the goal to go one up."
Conard (6-4) won the ensuing faceoff and tried to transition towards the offensive zone, but Staples forced a turnover and ran out the rest of the clock.
"We expected (Conard) to be a good team," Najarian said. "We had a scout from another team that tell us they were better than their record. We absolutely had our hands full."
Trailing 5-4 entering the second half, the Chieftains scored five of the next six goals to take a 9-6 lead with 13 minutes left. The Wreckers called timeout at that point and tried to regroup for the final push.
"We kind of get frantic sometimes when we get down," Hood said. "(The coaches) stressed to maintain control, maintain composure and that way we're not making silly turnovers. We caught our breath and we were ready to go.
Staples responded with four straight goals by four different players in a 2:03 span, aided by Jenna McNicholas' success in the faceoff circle.
"When it was time for us to step up and win draws we did," Najarian said. "We talked about the importance of winning the draw, picking up the ground the ball and helping the defense."
After Hood gave Staples a 10-9 lead with 8:08 left, the Chieftains came right back and took the lead. Anne Wilson and Rose St. Hilaire Scored goals 1:08 apart to put Conard back up on top 11-10.
Paige Murray scored from a free position with 2:36 remaining to draw the Wreckers even before Hood's heroics.
"(Conard) was strong defensively," Najarian said. "They pressured the ball all over the field and pressued us more on defense than what we expected. So we had to adjust our offense and run plays that matched what they were doing."
Colleen Bannon continues to impress for the Wreckers. Bannon scored a hat trick and was a force all over the field. The freshman has six goals in her last three games.
"(Bannon) played amazingly well," Hood said. "I think she has a lot to grow on but she is starting with a great base. She has excellent stick skills, excellent hustle and her speed is probably what makes her. She maintains her composure."
Paige Murray scored a hat trick for Staples, while McNicholas added a goal and three assists. Grace Murray, who was second-team All-State last year as a junior, scored three goals for the Chieftains.
Staples 12, Conard 11
CONARD 4 7 -- 11
STAPLES 5 7 -- 12
Records: Conard 6-4; Staples 6-4.
Scoring: C--Grace Murray 3g; Rose St. Hilaire 1g; Marisa Haverty 1g; Tessa Sinatro 2g, 1a; Kiernan Henderson 1g; Anne Wilson 1g; S--Paige Murray 3g; Nicki Najarian 1g, 1a; Colleen Bannon 3g; Jenna McNicholas 1g, 3a; Meredith Hood 3g; Kate Lesch 1g. Goalies: C--Morgan Chase (6 saves); S--Emma Boland (5).