Kat Krieger was fueled by the determination to succeed this spring. A senior captain for the Staples girls lacrosse team, she wanted her team to reach its goal because there wasn't going to be a next year for her and did whatever it took to succeed and lead Staples to a lengthy playoff run, starting by working nonstop on her game during the offseason.

As a result, she picked up her play immensely, which enabled her to lead the Lady Wreckers to their best season ever with a berth to the Division II championship game. Individually, she was recognized for her success in earning First Team All-FCIAC and First Team All-State honors and was the Block S team MVP.

"I never expected it and that wasn't a goal," Krieger admitted. "I was never at that level. I was hoping to get something but to get all three was so exciting."

And she earned it by being Staples' top defender. She guarded opponents like a blanket and frustrated some of the top FCIAC attackers she faced.

"Kat took very seriously her responsibilities as captain and worked extremely hard during the off season," Lady Wreckers Coach Cathy Schager said. "That is what elevated her game this year. It was a combination of embracing her responsibilities as a leader and the immense degree to which she worked in the off season. She was extremely critical [to our success]. During the winter she and [senior captain] Lexa [Koenig] did an exceptional job of communicating expectations and leading activities as for during season - all things considered we have a pretty young team, but she was integral on the defensive end, both in transition and settled and she was a key member of our offensive transition game."

Krieger forced Staples' opponents into making mistakes and led the team with 60 caused turnovers.

"Talking was very important and the defense communicated," Krieger said. "We watched a lot of films. In transition, speed is the best thing and it prevents people from blowing by you. Being aggressive, helps! I'm always looking for the ball and hanging sticks. When you look for it, you find it more often."

Her ability to read opponents enabled her to come up with five interceptions.

"When the game is going on, you watch the girls doing the same thing," Krieger said. "When you figure out what they're going to do, it's a matter of getting the stick there on time. You practice it all the time and it helps you get there. Wanting it and being competitive also helps."

If the ball becomes loose in her area, she'd figure out a way to scoop it up as her 60 ground balls would attest.

"When I was a sophomore, Nikki Seo [Class '11] would get to ground balls with ease," Krieger recalled. "She said, `if you watch the ball, you'll come up with it.'"

She also helped the Lady Wreckers by winning 28 draws. Although she's a defensive player, she contributed offensively with seven goals and four assists for 11 points with a lethal shot and a nice passing touch.

What makes her success stand out was the fact she never played lacrosse before freshman year. Moreover, she didn't know how to catch a ball when she first picked up a stick. Evidently, the coaching staff saw her potential and gave her a chance -- and they are glad they did.

"Schager is a great coach and [then-JV Coach Stacy] Fierce taught me defensive movement freshman year and the rest fell into place," Krieger said. "One of my closest friends convinced me to try out for lacrosse. I never wanted to do outdoor track and I wasn't good at softball. A lot of kids who tried out were new to the sport and I wasn't nervous."

Possessing speed worked to her advantage back then as she slowly but surely progressed with her stick skills.

"The stick skills is more of a factor on offense than it is on defense," Krieger said. "I made JV because stick skills wasn't important [as it is on varsity] and running is more important, so I played defense my freshman year. My freshman year coach was amazing and I love playing defense."

Come junior year, she became more comfortable with her stick skills and it was second nature for her by that point. Catching the ball wasn't a problem for her and this enabled to be more versatile.

She's very athletic and tried other sports, starting with soccer, which she began in kindergarten, and played for the Lady Wreckers the past four year. In soccer, she played offense and credits her speed for her success in it. In fourth grade, she started to play basketball but stopped after freshman year. Sophomore year, she ran the 50-meter dash and 300-meter dash for the indoor track team but gave it up junior year so she could spend the winter preparing for lacrosse at Fitness Edge.

Leadership is a strength of hers as she served as captain with Koenig and Blair Barone. All three captains are credited for the team's 15-7 overall record and reaching the Division II championship game.

"It was one of the best experiences in my life," Krieger said. "Lexi and Blair were great captains. You had to know what was going on with everyone. It felt good to reach our goal and it was a fun ride."

As captain, she led by example through her work ethic and verbally by communicating well with her teammates.

"Talking on the field and being friends with our teammates, helped," Krieger said. "We were able to laugh but because we were friends, they listened to us when it was time to be serious."

Krieger's coaches knew they could count on her. They credit her ability to work with everyone for the team's dream season.

She was easily one of the best [captains] ever," Schager said. "I called her the colonel. She was exceptional at listening to and understanding goals and making sure that [all] expectations were met by the players. She was at the same time one of the smartest players and captains when it came to taking four years of instruction and parlaying it into field play as well as instructing younger players and reminding her peers about our system."

The other coaches recognized her success and chose her to play in the Senior All-Star game. She especially found it rewarding to play with four All-American players.

"It was fun and nice to talk to the other girls you compete with during the regular season," Krieger said.

Academically, she was in the top 4 percent of her class with high honors and a 4.3 GPA. She is an FCIAC Scholar-Athlete, received the Principal's award and is an AP Scholar with Distinction to name some of the awards she received. Math is her favorite subject.

"When you play a sport, you are more focused," Krieger said. "I found I do better academically when I'm in season and I don't waste time while playing a sport. I don't have too much time and it's hard at times with late nights along the way, but I get it done."

This fall, she will attend Duke University and major in engineering. She won't be playing varsity lacrosse there because it's a major Division I program but hopes to play at the club level.

"Once I saw Duke, I knew I wanted to go there," Krieger said. "I like that their basketball, lacrosse and soccer programs are good and sports is a big part of the environment."

Schager will miss her and be hard-pressed to replace her outgoing MVP. The Lady Wrecker coach believes Krieger could play varsity for Division III programs and some Division II and I programs as well.

"I absolutely think so," Schager said. "She's extremely fast, passionate and intense and her skills have reached a level that would definitely allow her to compete at that level. Making First Team All-FCIAC and All-State and leading the team in positive turnovers is no joke."