Everything changed for the Staples High girls lacrosse team at 2:30 Monday afternoon. Star scorer Maeve Flaherty was suspended along with several other FCIAC players and dozens of female lacrosse players across the state for "violating CIAC eligibility rules."
Over the weekend, Flaherty participated in a tryout for the U-19 Under Armor regional team. Under CIAC rules and regulations, "During the high school season, starting with the first scheduled contest through the CIAC and New England tournaments, you may not practice or play with an outside team in the same sport."
Flaherty's absence was evident from the start as she was forced to watch from the sidelines. Staples could not overcome the loss of their star player as it fell, 15-5, to the Blue Wave.
Coach Cathy Schager said, "It was a big deal not to have Maeve. The center is the key to a team's offensive and their defense. She's a strong player, and it's a hard position to replace for a full game."
Her replacement, junior Jessie Ambrose, showed great heart and talent, switching her position with only four hours notice. "The difference between attack wing and center is that the attack wings alternate getting back on defense. So having more stamina and getting down the field was the hardest part," she said.
Ambrose scored two goals and assisted on another in the first half. Despite Ambrose's offensive efforts, the Wreckers could not keep up with the Blue Wave. Flaherty's absence was felt throughout during draws, as Staples struggled to get possession. The Wrecker defense shut down as girls stopped communicating and allowed in 13 first half goals.
Senior Nicole Seo and junior Adele Mackey also scored in the first half, and senior Elizabeth Driscoll contributed Staples' final goal.
The frustration and heartbreak hurt the performances of many Staples players, but none more than junior Remy Nolan. Nolan was awarded two yellow cards and as a result will not be able to compete in Staples' next game during the first round of the state tournament.
Schager and her team were disappointed in Monday night's loss and the penalties Flaherty faced. She said this was Staples' first appearance in the FCIAC semifinals and even though "it was a moral victory just to get here, right now the team is not OK with that."
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