The Staples High girls lacrosse team graduated 10 players from last season's 14-win squad.

Still, first-year coach Peter Najarian is optimistic about the Wreckers' chances.

"I think we can contend," he said on Tuesday. "It's an absolutely interesting year for the program because we graduated 10 seniors. It's essentially an all-new starting lineup."

The Wreckers, who reached the quarterfinals of the L state tournament in 2012, do return talent, however. Seniors Ryan Kirschner, a midfielder, and Sami Bautista and Megan O'Shea -- both contributors on attack -- will captain the Wreckers.

"We've got big shoes to fill and a lot to prove, but I think we have the kids that can do it," Najarian said. "They're excited to work hard to get it done."

The team's core defenders will be senior Allison April and sophomore Amelia Heisler, Najarian said.

The Wreckers will field a promising sophomore class that also includes midfielders Jenna McNicholas and Paige Murray, along with Emma Boland, the starting goalie.

"While they're young, they're good," the coach said. "They're not as battle-tested as some of the older kids were. It's going to be up to them how they handle the bigger stages in FCIAC."

Staples opens its season on Wednesday at Conard.

Najarian is confident that if the Wreckers play together, they can put forth a strong season.

"If they continue to work the way they have and they play as a team the way they can, then they can do some pretty exciting things," he said.

Coached last season by Cathy Schager, Staples opened the year by winning 10 of its first 12 games. The Wreckers' season ended with a 13-12 loss to Hall in the state quarterfinals.

Najarian believes that this year's team possesses some unique qualities.

"I think they're fast," he said. "I think there's a real desire to really want to play as a team. They're close personally. A lot of them have been playing together for years."; 203-255-4561 ext. 114;