The Staples girls lacrosse team has to figure out how to beat Fairfield Ludlowe if it wants to win the Division II title. Ludlowe qualified for the playoffs and overcame a 6-3 deficit in the first half and outscored Staples 4-2 in the second half in a 9-8 victory over the Lady Wreckers on Wednesday afternoon at Ginny Parker Field in Westport.

Ludlowe beat Staples for the second time in a week to raise its record to 8-2. The Falcons beat the Lady Wreckers 13-12 in overtime on April 28.

"We're evenly matched teams," Ludlowe Head Coach Amy Alvord said. "To come through in a game like this shows a lot about our character."

Falcons' goaltending was a major reason why Ludlowe was able to win again, Jill Moffett stopped six shots in the first half and Charlotte O'Donnell turned aside 11 Staples' chances in the second half, including several in the final 10 minutes of the second half.

"Our goalies were huge today," Alvord said. "That makes such a big difference in a tight game like this."

"They saved our butts a couple of times," Hayley Welke said.

The Falcons jumped out to a lead six minutes into the game when Welke tallied the first of her three goals on a free position shot. Ashley Kirby scored less than two minutes later to put Ludlowe up 2-0.

"When I had the free positions, I really had to utilize the chances," Welke said.

But the Wreckers answered, scoring six of the next seven goals in the game, including three goals from sophomore Maeve Flaherty and two apiece from classmates Adele Mackey and Ali Crofts. Fellow sophomore Jessie Ambrose also scored and had an assist for Staples, who was trying to overcome the absence of junior leading scorer Nikki Seo.

"Our offense was a little off-kilter," Staples Coach Cathy Schager said. "We lacked a little bit of discipline and that hurt us a bunch."

Staples had all of the momentum of the game toward the end of the first half, but Ludlowe snatched it away when Falcons' leading scorer Tierney Larson scored her first of the game with just 1:16 left in the half. Sophomore Sarah Nesi scored just 22 seconds later to cut the Falcons' deficit to 6-5 at halftime.

"Getting those two goals right before the half were huge for our team," Larson said. "They got our momentum up for the second half."

"It was really important for us to go into half with that comeback," Alvord said.

Ludlowe's momentum carried over to the beginning of the second half as Welke potted her third goal to tie the game. Nesi scored on a free position just 1:50 later and Ludlowe was ahead again, 7-6.

Staples answered 1:07 later when Crofts netted her second goal of the game on a fast break that tied the game at 7.

Larson broke the tie for good with 18:18 remaining when she came out from behind the goal to beat Staples goalie Penny Tsilfides. Larson also added an assist on KC McAuliffe's insurance goal that put the Falcons up 9-7.

The Falcons would need that insurance tally as Flaherty scored from Remy Nolan with just over a minute left in the game. Staples could not get the game tied and fell for the fourth time in six games.

"We had a little trouble keeping our composure," Schager said. "We had trouble sticking it on the offensive end."