STAMFORD -- The Staples field hockey teams' Cinderella run to the FCIAC championship last fall may have put a target on its back as far as 2012 is concerned.

That appeared to be the case Thursday, as Stamford rose to the occasion with a pair of second half goals and a spirited defensive effort to top the Wreckers 2-0 at Boyle Stadium.

The hosts stifled every Staples attack that came their way, yielding zero second-half shots and largely outhustling their more heralded opponents.

"I feel like we can do anything now," Black Knights' midfielder Cooper Smith said. "It means a lot. We haven't beat Staples in a long time and it took the whole team to get the win today."

Stamford took the lead 2:30 into the second half when Taylor Mills fired a cross from the perimiter and Kelly Niesen deflected it into the roof of the cage. This came after a first period that Staples controlled, but couldn't find the space to create many opportunities.

"Stamford was fast and aggressive," Staples coach Ashley Del Vecchio said. "They were able to finish and today we couldn't. There are good games and bad games and today wasn't our best."

Things got worse for the Wreckers 10 minutes later, when Stamford's Jasmine Li had plenty of time and space to fire a shot off a penalty corner that went through traffic and behind Staples goalie Jodie Baris for a 2-0 lead.

"It's always tough when playing a dominant team like Staples," Mills said. "But we have a strong mental toughness and its helping us right now."

After building the two-goal cushion, the Black Knights sat back and formed an impenetrable wall, not allowing Staples any sniff of the cage despite having the majority of the possession. Most of the Wreckers' offense came in the form of penalty corners, where they held a 7-5 advantage over the home side.

"We did a really nice job of staying patient, composed, and making good decisions," Stamford coach Kerry Leonard said. "Everyone from Cooper Smith, to (defenders) Ciara Killian, to Sam Jaykus, came up with a lot of big block tackles."

Staples is 2-2 after a defeat to Warde last week and wins over Norwalk and Ridgefield, but may have work to do to get back headed in the right direction.

"I have a great group of girls, we hustled a lot today after being tired from last night (a win over Norwalk)" Del Vecchio said. "This is a very tough league. We will see Stamford again in late October; they gave us a great game today."

The Black Knights are starting to realize their potential after showing glimpses of what they could be in 2011, when they posted a 11-7-1 mark and didn't lose a single game by more than two goals.

"Every game is a big game for us," Leonard said. "It's just another step in the right direction for where we want to be."

Stamford 2, Staples 0

STAPLES 0 0 --0

STAMFORD 0 2 --2

Records: Staples 2-2; Stamford 2-0-1.

Goals: SHS -- Kelly Niesen, Jasmine Li. Assists: SHS -- Taylor Mills, Sam Jaykus. Goalies: Stap -- Jodie Baris (1 save). SHS -- Lesly Sanchez (2 saves).