Prior to Thursday, the Staples girls lacrosse team had not defeated one of the "big four" -- Darien, Wilton, New Canaan and Greenwich -- teams since April 29, 2011. The Cardinals were the victims on that day, and the Wreckers capitalized on an inspired performance to prevail against Greenwich again.
Paige Murray scored four times as the Wreckers used a big second half to topple the Cardinals 17-14 at home. The win puts Staples (7-5, 5-3 FCIAC) in prime position to qualify for the FCIAC playoffs with two regular season games remaining.
"It's finally nice to kind of break into the big four a little bit, not that we did," said Staples senior Meredith Hood, who had a hat trick. "We've come close in the past couple of years; to win especially in my senior year is really exciting."
The Cardinals (8-7, 8-1), playing their eighth game in 13 days, held an 8-0 record in the FCIAC prior to Thursday's defeat. Greenwich fell 17-14 to town rival Convent of the Sacred Heart on Wednesday.
"We had two hard games in a row, the girls really need rest," Greenwich coach Caitlin Keane said. "We played four games last week and three games this week. It's really hard when there are only a set number of girls that play."
Trailing 10-9 entering the second half, Staples took control of the game. Hood and Murray scored 31 seconds apart early in the period to retake the lead and the Wreckers scored six of the next nine goals to seal the win.
Greenwich built a 6-2 lead in the first half and appeared it would run away after controlling the majority of the draws. Staples then began winning more of the face-offs and was able to get back into the contest.
"We just figured out what (the Cardinals) were doing on the draws," Murray said. "They were pushing the draw to where our players weren't and we caught on and adjusted to that."
The Wreckers scored six straight goals to grab an 8-6 lead --along with confidence they could compete with the Cardinals in the second half.
"We've been down a couple of goals (to the big teams) and we've kind of been giving up," Murray said. "Today we just said no we're not going to give up, we're going to do it. We kept our heads together and we didn't give up."
Maddie Graves scored five times for the Cardinals, while freshman standout Grace Paletta added four. Older sister Carolyn Paletta added a hat trick, including one from a free position with 5:06 left in the second half to pull to within 17-14.
"It was back-and-forth," Keane said. "There were times my team was the aggressor and times where Staples was more of the aggressor. It was going back-and-forth and neither team really had it the whole game."
The Wreckers controlled the ensuing faceoff following Carolyn Paletta's goal, and managed to run out the rest of the clock despite a few ground balls and errant shots. Managing a lead late in the game --choosing whether or not to fire the ball on goal and risk yielding possession -- involves a fine balance.
"I definitely ruined that balance," Hood joked. "It's so tempting sometimes to just rip it and you let it get to your head a little bit. It just really takes discipline to know when to hold the ball and when to shoot."
GREENWICH 10 4 -- 14
STAPLES 9 8 -- 17
Records: Greenwich 8-7, 8-1 FCIAC; Staples 7-5, 5-3. Scoring: G -- Hannah Koorbusch (2 g, 1 a); Maddy Graves (5 g, 1 a); Grace Paletta (4 g); Carolyn Paletta (3 g, 2 a). S -- Paige Murray (4 g 1 a); Nicki Najarian (1 g, 1 a); Colleen Bannon (2 g, 1 a); Sam Kratky (2 g); Meredith Hood (3 g); Jenna McNicholas (3 g); Kate Lesch (1 g); Siobhan O'Loughlin (1 g). Goalies: G -- Kylie Ginsberg (11 saves); S -- Emma Boland (5).