GREENWICH — Every time Greenwich tied, or came within striking distance of Staples during Tuesday’s girls lacrosse matchup, the Wreckers’ dynamic duo of Kyle Kirby and Shira Parower were on the scene to give their squad some breathing room.
The high-scoring tandem were difficult to defend throughout, scoring six goals apiece, making it a happy FCIAC-opener for their squad.
Finishing strong after Greenwich tied the score 12 minutes into the second half, Staples registered an impressive 16-10 win at Cardinal Stadium.
Kirby, who has committed to play lacrosse at Notre Dame, recorded six goals and two assists, while Parower tallied six goals and three assists for Staples (2-0). Junior Kathleen Cozzi tallied twice, while senior Elle Fair and freshman McKenzie Didio notched one goal and one assist apiece for the victors.
“This feels great, I have never beaten Greenwich in lacrosse, so beating this team is a big thing,” Kirby said. “We had a lot of ball movement today, which is what we’ve been working on in practice the past two weeks.”
Said Parower: “I am a sophomore, so we wanted to win this game for our senior class, which hadn’t beaten Greenwich.”
Goalies Sarah DiGiovanni and junior Zoe Macris combined to make five saves for Staples, which defeated Rye (N.Y.) in its season-opener this past Saturday.
The Cardinals, who defeated the Wreckers last season, were paced by three goals from senior Grace Fahey and two goals and two assists from senior Paige Finneran. Greenwich trailed 7-6 at halftime and knotted the score at 7-7 early in the second half. The Wreckers had the possession advantage throughout the game, thanks to holding the edge in draw controls.
“We definitely need to work on draws and taking care of possessions,” Finneran said. “We had a lot of unforced turnovers and that’s been an issue in the preseason. Our defense looked good, even though we didn’t have a few of our starting players in. Offensively, we just need to have the ball more.”
Junior Kate Loughran and junior Leah Caputo each had two goals, while Grace Collier added one tally for Greenwich in its season-opener.
“It’s definitely a tough loss, this was not the way we wanted to open up,” GHS first-year coach Rachel Vallarelli said. “We had moments where we had some hiccups and hit some speed bumps. But toward the middle of the game, we picked it up. We have a lot of talent and we are working through everything.”
After Fahey’s goal tied the score at 7-7, Parower’s tally from close in — her fourth goal at that point — gave Staples an 8-7 edge with just over 16 minutes remaining. Converting a free position attempt, Parower made it 9-7 at the 15:28 mark.
Kirby put an 8-meter shot past GHS goalie Sloane Loveless, then Cozzi scored on a catch-and-shoot after receiving a pass from behind the net, giving the visitors an 11-7 advantage with 14:05 left in the second half.
“I think we wanted this game so much after halftime,” Parower said. “We came out on fire in the second half and we just kept running up the goals. No one was selfish and we capitalized on our opportunities.”
Collier opened the scoring, converting a free position shot, to give the Cards a 1-0 lead. After Kirby scored on an 8-meter shot, Finneran tallied off a strong run to the goal, putting the home team up, 2-1.
Kirby scored off a dodge, Parower made a free position shot and then scored directly off the ensuing draw, giving the Wreckers a 4-2 advantage midway through the first half.
“The senior class had never beaten Greenwich, so this was a very big game for us,” Staples coach Nicole Gerosa said. “The draw control definitely dicated the game. Greenwich was able to score on us in 10-15 seconds at some points, so possession was definitely important for us.”
Added Kirby: “We didn’t have many bad shots and we made the most of our opportunities.”
Vallarelli knows the loss was a good learning lesson for her squad.
“Like I told the girls, we are capable of doing so much more this season,” Vallarelli said. “We are a work in progress and we know we will get better.”
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Kirby and Parower paced the Wreckers offensively in the opening half, then helped them finish with a flurry with clutch goals throughout the game. At the faceoff circle, Kirby also won a good amount draws, enabling the victors to gain possession at key moments.
“When we had the ball, we looked great, we just need to have possession,” Finneran said. “Coming into the half, we were all really confident and we were ready to come out firing. But at the 13-minute mark, we got a little down on ourselves.”