A third straight 15-win season has the Staples boys lacrosse team right on track in its goal to become one of the top contenders in the state. Several deep postseason runs have also helped.

Buoyed by a youth program that has seen a massive increase in enrollment over the past five years, Staples has appeared in the last two Class L title games and now it wants to break through and claim hardware. The Wreckers fell 13-10 to Greenwich in the state title game and suffered a 9-8 defeat to New Canaan in the final minute of the FCIAC quarterfinals last May to end the season with a 15-6 record.

"A long time ago our goal was to make Staples one of the contenders," said sixth-year coach Paul McNulty. "We have done that now, but now we have new leadership. On paper we have a lot of returning players, but it's only performance that matters now."

The Wreckers will be captained by Teddy Coogan, Lucas Jackson and Isaac Paparo, who all will play on the defensive side of the field. Junior Josh Willis is also a returning defender.

Jackson will be mostly responsible for locking on the opposition's top attacking threat.

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"He's very quick and has good stick skills," McNulty said. "He's very good handling the ball, dodging and has the leadership."

All three attackers return for Staples -- juniors Connor Chamberlin, Ross Goldberg and Michael Reale -- this spring. Reale tallied 29 goals and 17 assists despite missing six games with an injury a year ago.

"Hopefully they will keep right on going," McNulty said. "All three of them have a year of experience and know what it's like; I think that will help them this year."

A pair of young Division-I committed midfielders -- freshman Evan Zinn (John's Hopkins) and sophomore Tanner Wood (Syracuse) -- will be tasked with raising their game to match the intensity of the FCIAC.

"In the youth leagues as an eighth grader, you may have had a ninth grader marking you," McNulty said. Now (Zinn) will have juniors and seniors marking him, so that will be different. He has that in practice now; I think he'll be ready."

Matt Johnson, Ethan Burger, Will Prangley and Tucker Bobrow will see the field in midfield or attack. Seniors Mac Jacobs (midfield), Cameron Felton (midfield) and Conor Keenan (attack) will also be in the mix for playing time.

Playing in the FCIAC's Western division, the Wreckers avoid playing Darien and New Canaan for a second straight year, but will scrimmage them both this week. Staples also hosted a team from Aspen, Colorado in preparation for the season.

In goal, McNulty said there is a battle to replace graduated three-year starter Cole Gendels between junior Peter Burger and freshman Matt Garber.

"(Gendels) was excellent leader and passionate about his team and his teammates," McNulty said. "Now it's someone else's turn to do that. Hopefully the next player can step in and do as well as Cole did."

The Wreckers begin their season on Wednesday, April 8 at Brien McMahon. Staples will also take on FCIAC contenders Greenwich (April 29) and Ridgefield (May 7) during the season, and face the same trio of teams from New York -- St. John the Baptist, Mamaroneck and Fox Lane -- that it faced last year.

rlacey@bcnnew.com, twitter.com/ryanlacey11