The Staples High girls lacrosse team used a strong second half on Saturday to collect its third straight victory.
The Wreckers trailed Joel Barlow by a goal early in the second half, before breaking open a close game to win 17-12 on the road.
Trailing by one, the Wreckers reeled off five unanswered goals over a span of 8:55 to grab a 12-8 lead.
Meredith Hood led the scoring with four goals, Samantha Kratky netted three, and Paige Murray, Jenna McNicholas, Ryan Kirshner and Sami Bautista all scored twice in the win. The Wreckers overcame three-goal performances by Barlow's Jessica Balinski and Brielle Kolf.
Staples coach Peter Najarian was pleased with his team's effort, especially the way his squad pushed through a sluggish start in a rare game on natural grass.
"The field is slow. It's one of the only grass fields we play on and it slows you down," he said. "Ground balls become a challenge and draws become a challenge. It took us a little while to acclimate to the grass."
Barlow controlled the ball off 19 of the game's 31 faceoffs, but the Wreckers took control once they were able to alter the game's tempo and adjust to the playing surface.
"I think as the game went on we definitely got more into it and were going harder for 50-50 balls," McNicholas said.
Kratky had two of her three tallies after halftime, while Hood scored all four of her goals over the final 25 minutes.
"We decided to play a fast-break offense against them," Najarian said.
Staples' Nicole Williams evened the score at 8-8 with a free-position shot with 21:04 to play. Hood scored her second goal a minute later for a lead the Wreckers wouldn't relinquish.
Less than a minute after Hood's goal, Kratky made it 10-8 Staples. Bautista's goal with 15:11 left staked the Wreckers to an 11-8 lead, prompting the Falcons to call timeout.
With the lead in hand, the Wreckers kept their energy up. The next goal came when Murray used her speed to get behind defenders before whipping home a shot to make it 12-8 with 12:09 left.
The Falcons answered when Olivia Sennett registered one of her two goals just 16 seconds later. That ended an 11-minute scoring drought for Barlow (2-4).
Najarian was especially pleased with the defensive work of Amelia Heisler, Allison April, Jacqueline Ortega and Nicole Williams, along with goaltender Emma Boland, who had six saves. Molly O'Shea and Nicole Najarian, who had a pair of assists, also provided a spark off the bench.
Thirty-one seconds after Sennett scored, the Wreckers got one back off another long run by Murray. The midfielder set up Bautista, who made it 13-9 with 11:22 left.
Saturday's game marked the end of a stretch of five games over seven days for Staples, in part because of weather postponements. The Wreckers went 4-1 in that stretch, with the lone loss to Darien, 16-4.
McNicholas said that the loss to the Blue Wave encouraged the Wreckers to finish the week strong.
"It just made us work that much harder to finish the week 6-2 (overall)," she said.
Staples will look to continue its winning streak when it visits New Canaan on Tuesday at 4 p.m.
"We're headed into a tough stretch," the Wreckers' coach said. "There's some work to do for us to put in the season we want to have."
Andy Hutchison is a freelance writer
STAPLES 17, JOEL BARLOW 12
STAPLES 6 11 -- 17
BARLOW 7 5 -- 12
Records: Staples 6-2; Barlow 2-4.
Scoring: S -- Meredith Hood (4g), Ryan Kirschner (2g, 2a), Paige Murray (2g, 1a), Samantha Kratky (3g), Jenna McNicholas (2g), Sami Bautista (2g), Megan O'Shea (1g), Nicole Williams (1g), Nicole Najarian (2a); JB -- Brielle Kolf (3g, 3a), Jessica Balinski (3g), Olivia Sennett (2g, 1a), Olivia Frzop (1g, 1a), Courtney Granfors (1g), Samantha Taylor (1g), Sierra Fey (1g). Goalies: S -- Emma Boland (6 saves); JB -- Erin Holder (10). Shots: S -- 27; JB -- 22.