Lady Wrecker laxwomen top New Canaan in historical win
Call it a historic victory.
That's the best way to describe the Staples girls lacrosse team's 14-13 home triumph over New Canaan Monday. New Canaan is one of the four teams that's consistently among the FCIAC elite and beating the Lady Rams has always been a pipe dream at best for Staples, which was 2-14 during the early part of President George W. Bush's second term in office.
What was once a pipe dream is now reality as the Lady Wreckers moved closer to elite status with a 14-13 victory over vaunted New Canaan (2-1) to raise its record to 3-0. Moreover, Staples triumphed despite playing a man down for 13 minutes of the first half and the entire second half because it committed three yellow cards.
"This is big," Lady Wreckers Coach Cathy Schager said. "The defense played well and the offense did some beautiful things. I'm impressed we were able to win despite playing a man down. Beating New Canaan is big because they are a very good team."
Ranking where this win exactly stands in Staples' history is tough but the team agrees it's a breakthrough for the program.
"It's the biggest win in my career at Staples," Lady Wreckers senior quad-captain Nikki Seo said. "The program has made huge strides because of Coach Schager and I'm proud to be a part of a team on the rise. This game shows how far we came."
Senior quad-captain Elizabeth Driscoll said, "It was so exciting. Everyone worked so hard and played their `A' game and it completely paid off. It was a big accomplishment and it showed what we're capable of this season."
In the early stages, it looked like `same old story' as the Lady Rams jumped out to a 5-0 lead. However, Staples didn't quit and went on a 6-0 surge to take a 6-5 lead. New Canaan scored with 1:40 left in the half and the game was knotted 6-6 at the break.
"I told the kids at the beginning of the game that we can win it but we needed to take the lead," Schager said. "I also said if we fall behind, not to panic."
Junior Maeve Flaherty broke the ice for the Lady Wreckers with 17:30 remaining in the half off a feed from Seo. Flaherty (three goals, three assists) is one of Staples' best finishers and made her presence felt on offense.
"My teammates set me up and got me open," Flaherty said. "My goals came off of great assists."
Seo (one goal, three assists) was the consummate playmaker.
"It's all about trust and we trust each other," Seo said. "You have to trust your teammates will catch the balls you throw and I'm lucky to play with outstanding players."
New Canaan took a 7-6 lead in the second half before junior Adele Mackey tied it from sophomore Ryan Kirschner (one assist). The Lady Wreckers never trailed again. Juniors Ali Crofts (one goal, one assist) and Jessie Ambrose each gave Staples one-goal leads with the Lady Rams tying it both times, the last at 9-9.
Driscoll (one goal, one assist) then scored from Flaherty and the Lady Wreckers never looked back after that. The captain's goal started a 3-0 run and Staples led 12-9 after Ambrose and Mackey each scored goals. Ambrose (four goals, one assist, one positive turnover, two ground balls, one draw control) led the team in scoring and Mackey (three goals, one positive turnover, three draw controls) was also on fire.
"The key for us was winning the draws and being able to control the ball in our offensive zone," Ambrose said. "We spread out well and opened up the lanes for each other."
After New Canaan cut its deficit to one on two occasions, Ambrose (unassisted) and Mackey each scored goals with the latter's coming from Seo with 2:06 to go in the game to make it 14-12. The Lady Rams then cut the deficit to 14-13 with 1:34 left but Flaherty (two positive turnovers, two ground balls, one interception, four draw controls) won the ensuing draw as Crofts came up with the loose ball.
"You have to give Ali Crofts credit because she got the ball," Flaherty said. "She was very important on the draws and was always there."
Crofts may only be 5-0 but what she lacks in size, she compensates for it with tenacity and pluckiness.
"I told Maeve to put it where I can get to it because I knew it was important to be in possession of the ball," Crofts said. "I had to get in front of the New Canaan girls and box them out."
Crofts also won three draws.
"Whenever I see a ball on the ground, I go for it no matter how hard it is to get it," Crofts said.
Driscoll (three positive turnovers, one ground ball, one draw control) may be an offensive player but was key on defense.
"Coach has us work on in practice situations where the other team has the ball and you try to get the ball back," Driscoll said. "It was teamwork and communication with my teammates."
"We were very focused today and you could tell in warm-ups we had our heads in the game," Seo said. "We tried to stay consistent and it showed."
Flaherty said, "It feels real good and all our hard work is paying off. The most important thing is it was a team effort and everyone showed up today."