Girls Lacrosse: Youth to be served for Staples this season

Hour Photo/Alex von Kleydorff L-R Staples Girls Lacrosse Captains Georgia Nicklin and Coleen Bannon

Hour Photo/Alex von Kleydorff L-R Staples Girls Lacrosse Captains Georgia Nicklin and Coleen Bannon

WESTPORT — The Staples High girls lacrosse program suffered some big losses to graduation going into the 2016 campaign.

The Wreckers will be without the services of All-Area selections Paige Murray, Jenna McNicholas and Amelia Heisler, who are all playing in college. Losing such talented players could be a cause for pessimism but that’s not the case on North Avenue.

With an enthusiastic first-year coach in the fold in Stephanie Calabrese and some up-and-coming underclassmen on the roster, the Wreckers are taking a glass half-full approach this spring.

“We’re young,” Calabrese admitted. “We graduated 10 seniors and we may be weaker in certain positions but I also think we’re stronger in some positions.”

A definite strength for the Wreckers will be in the leadership category with junior Colleen Bannon and senior Georgia Nicklin assuming the role of captains.

Bannon, an attacker/midfielder, was one of the team’s top scorers from a season ago who will be heavily involved in this year’s offense, according to Calabrese, while Nicklin is the team’s anchor on the defensive end.

“Colleen has good vision and a rocket of a shot,” Calabrese said. “Georgia keeps everyone positive and makes sure everyone is always on the same page.

“I’m counting on my captains,” she added. “I put a lot of responsibility on them but they’ve ran with it. I’m very comfortable with them leading the team.”

Staples is bolstered by a trio of sophomores who return after seeing action as freshmen, including Meghan Johnson (midfielder), Abby Najarian (attack) and Christine Taylor (attacker/midfielder). They’ll be joined in the lineup by three freshmen standouts with another two rookies also playing key roles, according to Calabrese.

Replacing Emma Boland, who also graduated, between the pipes will be another sophomore, Alexa Moro, and Calabrese has been impressed with the first-year starter.

“She’s amazing,” the coach said. “If she’s not one of the best goalies in the state as a sophomore, she will be as a junior. She’s so poised and loves to be shot on. You can’t ask for much more.”

Senior attacker Julia Greenspan, a four-year player in the program who is going into her second season on varsity, will also be counted upon and Calabrese said she works hard every day on the field. Junior Sara Parower (midfielder/defender) also will play a role for the Wreckers.

Staples finished 12-7 a season ago in the unforgiving FCIAC and the CIAC Class LL state division. Darien, New Canaan, Wilton and Greenwich seem to always be among the top teams in the league, according to Calabrese, but a few other teams will vie for a conference tournament berth such as Ridgefield and Fairfield Ludlowe, among others.

“There are no easy games,” Calabrese said of the teams in the FCIAC. “We’d like to win more games than last season, turn some of those losses from last year into ‘W’s and I’d love to see us beat one of those top-tier teams.”

Calabrese, who served as an assistant for two years at Staples before ascending to the top spot, wants to change the culture of the program so that the Wreckers will give any team in the FCIAC a tough test. So far, her team has that edge of wanting to go head-to-head with the top dogs, which is something she loves to see.

“In previous years Staples would dread playing the big teams but now they have the attitude of let’s go out and give it our best shot,” she said. “And I know they will.”

The Wreckers open the season on Tuesday, April 5, at Norwalk.