WESTPORT -- The Staples High field hockey team started pretty much right where it left off a year ago.

The Wreckers, who won the FCIAC championship and reached the second round of the L state tournament in 2011, controlled all facets of their opener against Ridgefield on Wednesday.

Shelby Phares scored twice and Noortje Lueb and Jackie Lawrence both added goals as the Wreckers topped the Tigers 4-0 at Ginny Parker Field.

"Amazing--I can't even describe it," Phares said of beginning the season with a win. "I'm so excited. It's a great way to hit the ground running for the season. We really, really talked. We made cuts to the ball. We had really good communication."

It didn't take long for the Wreckers to get on the scoreboard as Lueb cashed in just 8:15 into the game. Following the goal, the Wreckers continued to control the ball and added to their lead with 4:06 left in the opening half. Phares did the honors by stuffing home a loose ball off a penalty corner rebound.

The Wreckers mirrored their production in the first half with a two-goal effort after the break. Another penalty corner set up the third tally, and the Wreckers proved that the third time was the charm in this instance. Staples had three consecutive penalty corners in a span of seconds, culminating with a goal. Lawrence charged the cage and smacked home a rebound to make it 3-0 with 17:14 left, leaving little doubt in the outcome.

Phares capped the scoring almost all by herself. She controlled the ball from the midfield into Ridgefield territory, leaving defenders behind, before whipping home her second goal with 9:26 left.

Ashley Del Vecchio, who made her coaching debut after spending last season with the freshman team, was pleased with Staples' performance.

"It was a total team effort," said Del Vecchio, alluding to the team's ball movement and their penchant for hard work. "Every time they lost the ball they would get it back."

The fact that the Wreckers didn't sit on the 2-0 lead and kept battling for more was something that Del Vecchio liked seeing.

"It's definitely a comforting sign for me," she said. "All around it was good--shots, defense, conditioning paid off."

Staples outshot Ridgefield 9-4 and finished the game with a decisive 14-3 advantage in penalty corners. Shannon Connors sent the ball in on the penalty corners and Elizabeth Bennewitz, who notched one assist, received the entry pass each time to set up several scoring chances.

Staples freshman goalie Jodie Baris made four saves--three of which came late in the game--to earn a shutout in her debut. Ridgefield netminder Paige Andrews, under attack all afternoon, stopped five of the shots that made it on goal.

Andy Hutchison is a freelance writer from Fairfield County



STAPLES 2 2--4

Records: Ridgefield 0-1; Staples 1-0.

Goals: S--Shelby Phares 2, Noortje Lueb, Jackie Lawrence. Assists: S--Elizabeth Bennewitz. Goalies: R--Paige Andrews (5 saves); S--Jodie Baris (4). Shots: R--4; S--9.