It’s a familiar refrain.
Every spring, when the top teams in FCIAC girls lacrosse are mentioned, the fantastic four — Darien, New Canaan, Wilton and Greenwich — are noted, and then people move on.
Don’t sleep on the 2019 Staples Wreckers.
After going 8-9 and suffering first-round TKOs courtesy of Darien in the FCIAC and Class L playoffs, the Wreckers have roared out of the game this season. They’re one of just two 7-0 teams — the other being Pomperaug in Class M — and made a loud noise in the first week when they beat Greenwich 16-10 on the Cardinals’ home turf.
That set a tone for Staples in terms of both FCIAC and state rankings, and in confidence for the players.
“Beating Greenwich at the beginning of the season was a great early win for us and was especially important for this senior class as they had never beaten Greenwich,” Staples coach Nicole Gerosa said. “We’re working hard to be a contender as one of the top teams in the FCIAC and are taking it one game at a time. There’s a lot of time left in the season and still a lot of room to grow.”
Staples, which is ranked No. 4 in the state coaches poll, features five co-captains with seniors Samantha Pacilio and Alexa Mysel on defense, senior Izzy Cardello on attack, and senior Elle Fair and junior Kathleen Cozzi on midfield.
Fair is a multi-sport star and has committed to play both field hockey and lacrosse at Trinity College, and Cozzi has verbally committed to play lacrosse at William & Mary.
“Each captain has a role on the team and have all been great leaders on and off the field since the start of the season,” Gerosa said. “They have all had positive attitudes, come every day with a hard work ethic and hold their teammates accountable.”
Staples also received an added boost with the return of junior attack Kyle Kirby. Kirby, who has committed to play at Notre Dame, missed most of her sophomore season while recovering from ACL surgery. She’s healthy now and lighting up the stat sheet with a team-high 46 draw controls and 37 points on 21 goals and 16 assists.
Sophomore Shira Parower has also been a boon, tying Kirby for the team lead with 21 to go along with 14 assists. Fair is not far behind those two with 17 goals and three assists.
“Kirby and Parower have had an amazing start to the season and are playing unselfishly by looking to create opportunities for their teammates and balance out the scoring,” Gerosa said.
The road ahead is daunting.
On Thursday, Staples will square off with No. 5 Cheshire, a 5-1 team that lost to Greenwich 13-12 last week. The Wreckers also face No. 8 Ridgefield on April 25, with games against No. 3 Wilton and No. 10 New Fairfield later this season.
Gerosa said the successful started is based around leaders and chemistry.
“The (7-0) start can be attributed to the leadership of the upperclassmen and focus on building team chemistry,” she said. “This season we have been focusing on a motion offense with a lot of ball movement and being creative as opposed to running a lot of set plays.”
CARDINALS TAKE FLIGHT
Rachel Vallarelli’s first season as head coach at Greenwich didn’t get off to a winning start, but the Cardinals have quickly righted the ship with three wins in a five-day span.
Greenwich knocked off the Cheshire Rams, who were then ranked No. 3, in a 13-12 game last Thursday in Cheshire, and then beat perennial Massachusetts power Longmeadow 16-11 on Monday at Cardinal Stadium.
For the Cards, who are working with a new coach while also transitioning to a new season, Monday’s win was impressive.
“Today we were focusing on our intensity and playing all 60 minutes and we showed that today,” senior co-captain Grace Fahey said. “We are finally figuring out our chemistry and we are playing really well together.”
Fahey was a big part of the win over Longmeadow, scoring a team-best six goals, while senior Paige Finneran and junior Leah Caputo had hat tricks.
The Cards made the biggest jump in the latest Connecticut Coaches Poll, moving up four spots from No. 10 to No. 6, settling in one spot behind Cheshire, a team they just defeated.
The wins were bound to come. Greenwich was 16-4 last year and had several returning stars, including All-American Olivia Caan on defense, and all-state players Fahey, Finneran and goalie Sloane Loveless.
WORDS OF WISDOM
Speaking of Loveless, Greenwich’s senior goalie had a busy week. She had her wisdom teeth removed Friday, one day after the victory over Cheshire. Three days later, she helped the Cards defeated Longmeadow.
“I got my wisdom teeth out Friday, so I was anxious to get out there and make some saves,” Loveless said. “The adrenaline our defense had was great, they really helped me out on the field. I’m so incredibly proud of them. They did a great job of getting the ball to our offense.”
A look back at the week that was and the week ahead for high school girls lacrosse. Those who wish to submit performances should email Dave Stewart at David.Stewart@hearstmediact.com by Tuesday, noon.