The first player Staples girls lacrosse coach Pete Najarian approached to congratulate following the Wreckers 10-5 loss to Wilton on Tuesday afternoon was junior goalie Emma Boland.
Boland, who was under siege for the second time in the three games, kept Staples alive deep into the second half against one of the top teams in the state. The Wreckers fell 10-9 to New Canaan April 29, a game that included 10 saves by Boland. She made another 10 saves in the defeat to the Warriors.
"(Boland is) more confident every game and I think she sees the ball better every game," Najarian said. "It's just one of those things where you can see a player get better and better. I expected that to happen for Emma and it's starting to happen."
Shannon Quinlan scored five goals for the Warriors (10-1), who improved to 10-0 against Connecticut competition this season. Wilton squares off with defending FCIAC champion Darien Thursday.
"There's no question in my mind Wilton is one of the top teams in the state and one of the top teams in the FCIAC," Najarian said. "We have a ton of respect for their program. ... They came prepared to play. They did all the little things it takes to win a game like this."
The Wreckers (4-4) remained in the contest despite winning just four of 17 draws and a 24-13 shot disadvantage. Wilton junior Makenna Pearsall enjoyed a successful day in the circle and added a goal.
"(Pearsall) was great," Wilton coach Meredith Adamicki said "She's been steadily getting better all season. To be able to rely on that possession off the draw is key. It's huge; that's the reason we won today."
Freshman Colleen Bannon scored a pair of goals 1:26 apart to pull Staples to within 7-5 with 19 minutes left, but the Warriors defense pitched a shutout down the stretch.
"I thought we ran with (Wilton) well," Najarian said. "You have to be able to win at least half of the draws to win the game. It's amazing it was only 10-5 winning four of 17 draws."
Jenna McNicholas gave Staples a 1-0 lead inside four minutes, but Wilton quickly gained control. Quinlan scored three times in a 1:30 span to give Warriors a 3-1 lead, an advantage they wouldn't relinquish for the rest of the game.
"It's inspiring to the sideline," Adamicki said of Quinlan's outburst. "It's inspiring to everyone on the team when someone goes that hard and buries shots like that. It's a real momentum changer."
Wilton built up a 6-2 lead at the half and scored the final three goals after Bannon's double. The Warriors enjoyed possession from faceoff wins and put heavy pressure on Boland and the Staples defense.
"I think our defense played a very strong game," Najarian said. "Wilton has a very strong offense with a lot of girls that can score. They run a lot of different sets for those girls and our defense dug in and played very well."
Staples, which lost 14-5 to Wilton and 18-5 to New Canaan -- both Class M finalists -- last year, has begun to close the gap on the top teams in the FCIAC. Led by a strong junior class, the Wreckers are hopeful a big win is around the corner. Read Full Article
"Each game we're getting better and better, and each year we are getting better," Boland said. "By next year I think we'll beat one of the big teams."
Senior captain Meredith Hood, one of Staples' top scorers, missed the contest with a minor injury and is due to return soon, according to Najarian.