Every once in a while all of the stars align for a team that's been knocking on the door of contending for a championship. That's what the Staples girls lacrosse team hopes will happen this spring, as nine seniors prepare to embark on the challenging quest to for an FCIAC and Class L title.

Staples took a big step forward last season, improving on an 8-9-1 record in 2013 to 10-7. It still ended in disappointment with one-goal losses in both the FCIAC and Class L playoffs and the group is looking to make amends this year.

"For a lot of these kids, they've been together so long this kind of their last chance for them," Staples coach Pete Najarian said. "There's a big group that have played together since seventh grade. Many of them play on the same travel team year-round. They're pumped and have been all winter."

In defense, Lafayette-bound Amelia Heisler anchors a group with fellow senior Jackie Ortega and juniors Anna Eichhorn and Georgia Nicklin. Emma Boland is back in the cage for a third straight season and has had a good preseason, according to Najarian.

Attacker Sam Kratky is back after missing most of last season with an injury. Nikki Najarian will also be called upon to score goals.

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Sophomore Colleen Bannon made an impact on offense last year and will be on the field in midfield and attack. Staples did lose Meredith Hood to graduation and junior Kate Lesch, who moved out of the area.

"(Bannon) has great instincts and a great lacrosse IQ," Najarian said. "She has one of the best sticks on the team. We're going to keep putting her in positions to score."

Midfielders Jenna McNicholas and Paige Murray are four-year starters and will be crucial for any championship challenge. Seniors Siobhan O'Loughlin and Nicole Williams will also be in the rotation.

"In the midfield have so many diverse players that can play anywhere; in defense or attack," Murray said. "The ability of our midfield playing both and defense and attack will help us."

Heisler, McNicholas and Murray will be the captains.

"This year we won't have to rely on one or two kids to score," Najarian said. "The good news this year is we have great kids that can distribute to other great kids."

Najarian also noted that his freshman class enters with a high level of talent and some could see the field during the season.

To accomplish the goal of a championship, Staples will have to dethrone nationally-ranked Darien, winners of the last three FCIAC titles. Wilton and New Canaan will also be in the Wreckers' path.

"I definitely hope we make it to the finals, either state or FCIAC," Murray said. "I definitely think we can be there this year. Every year we've gone pretty far in the season and ended up losing ... this will be the mark to make it far this year."

Staples opens the season April 8 at home against Danbury.