Sometimes, a team feels victorious in defeat.

A case in point is the Staples field hockey team Monday in its 3-2 loss to Darien. Although Staples ended up on the short end of the stick on the scoreboard and dropped to 1-2, it considered the game to be a moral victory.

"We never scored against Darien [before Monday] since I coached the team and the girls are excited," Lady Wreckers coach Cecily Anderson said. "They [Darien] lost a lot of seniors but they are still a good team. They get a lot of support in the community and it's good we can keep up with them."

This was Darien's season-opener and last year, it vanquished Staples 6-0 in the regular-season finale and FCIAC quarterfinals. The Lady Blue Wave are the defending FCIAC and Class M champions.

"It's very exciting because we lost 6-0 to them last year and we finally scored against them and kept it close," Lady Wreckers senior Misha Strage said. "Even though we lost, we know we can play with them, which gives us a good attitude and helps us for the rest of the season."

Anderson said, "We get nervous [before we play them] because Darien is Darien but we need to realize we can take it very far. The seniors are excited for us to be in the game with Darien. It's not good for morale to lose by a lot and this game is big for our confidence."

Darien took a 1-0 lead in the first half before Strage tied it off a feed from sophomore Sami Bautista.

"It's nice to beat their goalie down," Strage said. "Everyone pushed off and it just went in."

The Lady Blue Wave answered with two goals before Bautista scored with six minutes left in the game from senior Emily Ashken to account for the 3-2 final.

Moreover, Staples might have tied it if it didn't have a goal disallowed. With Darien leading 3-1, Lady Wrecker junior Megan O'Shea apparently scored a goal but the referees didn't count as a goal and ruled it a penalty corner for the Westporters.

Overall, Darien outshot Staples 14-8 and had a 9-4 advantage in penalty corners. Lady Wrecker senior goalie Chris Lueb made 11 saves and Anderson was impressed with her play. The coach was also pleased with the performance of junior Shelby Phares in the midfield and senior Callie Hiner and junior Jackie Lawrence in the backfield.

"The win Saturday helped," Strage said. "This could be the last time we play Darien and we wanted to play hard."

Next up for Staples is a home game against Trumbull tomorrow and a trip to Westhill Monday.

"We're just excited to have two tough games to start the season [lost 3-0 to Wilton Sept. 13]," Anderson said.