WESTPORT >> After Thursday afternoon’s 14-8 girls’ lacrosse victory over Fairfield Ludlowe, Staples head coach Pete Najarian made it a point to say his team was still 3-0, not yet 4-0 on the season.
The second year head coach doesn’t want to get ahead of himself, but he isn’t shying away from the fact that he loves where his team is headed.
“You’re learning all the time,” Najarian said. “The wins are great, but I’m really proud of how hard the kids are working to take everything that we’re teaching them and try and make it happen on the field.”
Thursday was more than evident of the progression that the Wreckers have made. A year ago they finished in a tie with Ludlowe.
This season when the game needed to be pushed one way or the other, Staples took control.
After the Wreckers took an early 3-0 lead, the Falcons fought back as senior Ali Gorab cut between the defense to find the back of the net and make it 3-2. But the Wreckers, paced by junior co-captain Paige Murray, rattled off two straight goals to seize the momentum.
Led by Amelia Heisler, Staples fought for every ground ball and draw control, which was part of the difference.
“Ludlowe is a very good team. They are fast, and they have some girls who can really score and finish,” Najarian said. “There was a period in this game when our defense had to really dig in and not allow their scorers who are strong, to make those cuts from the top and score. And our defense dug in when they needed to.”
The Falcons did a good job of getting back into the game in the second half as they were able to cut the lead to two goals multiple times, as Gorab took it straight in for the goal to cut the score to 9-7. But again, the Staples’ defense buckled down, and goalie Emma Boland made some key stops, which allowed the offense to take over.
With 10:37 left, the Wreckers defense came up with a huge steal and then Meredith Hood scored to put Staples up 10-7. The Wreckers added two more goals to build an imposing 12-7 advantage that the Falcons couldn’t come back from.
“I think those changes in momentum are huge,” Heisler said. “And just the feeling when you get the ball back on defense and you’re working as a team and that cohesiveness when something works, it just makes all the practices worth it.”
Staples was led by Murray who finished with a game-high five goals and three assists. Hood added four goals, Nicki Najarian finished with two goals and one assist and Kate Lesch added three assists. Boland finished with 13 saves.
For the Falcons, it wasn’t their best outing, but with a young defensive unit they showed flashes of greatness, but head coach Heather Lewsey said she is still looking for a complete game of consistency.
“We just really didn’t play our game,” Lewsey said. “It wasn’t just one thing. Balls being dropped that we should have caught. We had multiple scoring opportunities that we didn’t capitalize on. Staples played better, they deserved to win.”
Ludlowe’s offense was paced Gorab who finished with two goals and three assists. Teammates Miranda Rosenfeld and Bryce McClure each added two goals in the loss.
Meanwhile for Staples, the Wreckers are hoping to continue their winning ways.
“I think this year because we’re so close, it’s going to be a great opportunity to break into the Top 4 and have an opportunity to make a difference,” Heisler said.