In order to be a titlist contender, the Staples girls lacrosse team needs to play its best at the end of the year.

Staples played better during the regular season, as its 15-12 at Greenwich April 29 would attest. The Lady Wreckers lost to Glastonbury in the Class L playoffs, the team Greenwich defeated in the championship game.

"Our girls are ready to be out there and ready go," Lady Wreckers co-head coach Cathy Schager said. "We weren't ready to end the season when we did."

Schager is back for an eighth season, but because of the demands she's facing off the turf, she's not Staples' only head coach. Former Lady Wrecker assistant Stacy Fierce will work with Schager as a co-head coach.

"I'm thrilled to have Stacy back," Schager said. "We tried to get her back the last couple of years. It won't be a problem coaching with her. We have wonderful synergy, so I can focus on the offense, and she can focus on the defense."

Fierce was an assistant from 2006-9, but didn't coach the previous two years because of family obligations.

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"I'm so excited," Fierce said. "This team is phenomenal. We have a talented senior class, and I missed coaching. I liked working with Cathy. It's a nice balance, we have good synergy, and it will work out."

Also joining the staff is Austin Waiter as goalie coach. Waiter (Class of 2010) started for the Staples boys team for two years, and played last year at Merrimack College. He left school because he decided to switch career paths and become a chef.

The Lady Wreckers were 15-5 overall, 13-3 in the regular season. They reached the FCIAC semifinals and Class L quarterfinals.

In fact, Staples' season took a turn for the worse in its 19-5 loss to Darien in the FCIAC semis. What hurt the Lady Wreckers was the suspension of All-American center Maeve Flaherty for trying out for a U-19 team, which resulted in two forfeits, which changed their regular-season record from 15-1 to 13-3. Although Flaherty was reinstated for Class L, this hurt the team's morale, and it carried over into the state playoffs.

"We haven't faced the adversity we faced last year," Schager said. "We will put the safeguards in place so we can handle the adversity and create our own momentum."

And with a strong senior class leading the way, Staples feels it could win at least one title this year.

In addition to Flaherty, who will be playing at Brown University, the Lady Wreckers return four others seniors who have committed to play in college, coupled with talented juniors.

Defensive wings Ali Crofts (UConn) and Remy Nolan (Boston University) are captains. Crofts is fast, and contributed on the offensive end in recent years. Nolan is a gritty player capable of winning physical battles.

Forwards Jessie Ambrose (Columbia) and Adele Mackey (Skidmore) are reliable scorers.

Mackey will miss the first two weeks of the season because of a foot injury she suffered in soccer.

Senior captain Kenzie Roof strengthens the defense as a low defender. Classmates Blaney Rotanz and Katie Kleinberg and freshman Amelia Heisler are expected to contribute on defense in place of Kelley Hussey and Sam Hardy, who graduated from last year's team.

"We're looking forward to incorporate the new players because they have good attributes, and they will help us this year," Crofts said.

The two biggest losses from 2011 were attacker Nikki Seo and goalie Penny Tsilfides.

Juniors Ryan Kirshner, Sami Bautista and Megan O'Shea saw time at attack last year, and are expected to contribute even more this year. Senior Emily Goldberg along with juniors Ali April and Jess Adrian and freshmen Sam Kratky and Paige Murray will also see time at attack.

The new goalie is junior Kristen Flicker. Freshman Emma Boland is her backup.

When her injury heals, junior Josie Fair joins classmate Brittany Healy and freshman Jenna McNicholas in the midfield. Sophomore Meredith Hood will play wherever she's needed.

"I'm really excited," Roof said. "We did well in the scrimmages. The goal is to do our best, and do better than we did last year."

Nolan said, "Hopefully, we can turn our negatives into positives at the end of the season. We hope to win FCIACs and states."