NEW CANAAN -- When Norwalk field hockey coach Kyle Seaburg took a timeout halfway through the second half of Monday's away game against New Canaan, he pleaded with his players to "hit the ball, cut to the ball!"
Seaburg's frustration was evident and understandable, as his players had yet to register a single shot on goal. That the score was only 1-0 -- and would end 2-0 -- underscores how many scoring opportunities New Canaan wasted.
The Rams outshot the Bears 10-3 and had seven penalty corners to Norwalk's four.
Afterwards Seaburg said he'd be stealing some of New Canaan's tactics.
"It's something we've been working on: cutting to the ball, quicker passes. They did a nice job of creating those opportunities, so we're going to steal from that and work on that in practice," Seaburg said. "But it's just being more aggressive to the ball, not waiting for things to happen is what we've got to work on."
The victory for New Canaan was sweet revenge as the Rams lost to Norwalk in the second round of the Class L state tournament last year. The Rams' record rose to 3-1, while Norwalk fell to 0-4-1.
"I think it's one of our best games so far and I think we're just going to keep improving," said New Canaan sophomore Elizabeth Miller, who scored the team's first goal at 26:31 of the first half. She later added an assist on the second goal, scored by Martel Bruno. "I think we worked really well. We communicated in the middle," Miller said.
Norwalk didn't register its first shot on goal until 9:30 of the second half, with New Canaan ahead by two goals. The Bears followed three minutes later with two more shots on goal, but both were denied by New Canaan goalie Emma Ball.
"I thought in the second half when we put more pressure on, then things really clicked and we started to pass better and that's when we really started to keep the ball in the offensive zone," said Norwalk senior forward Kyle Coppola.
The Bears are now winless in their first five games, but Coppola said they're not feeling the pressure to live up to last year's standard (15-4-2), when Norwalk advanced to the state title game before losing to Cheshire.
"We're not worried," Coppola said. "We did lose a lot of good players. But this team has a lot of potential and we're just going to keep pushing it and pushing it and we're going to get it eventually."
New Canaan played well in the victory, but coach Erin Gildea warned her players afterwards that not capitalizing on scoring opportunities can come back to haunt you against an experienced team like Norwalk.
"We're working on finishing our scoring opportunities, and we definitely left some goals on the field today," Gildea said. "We were just talking about how if you let good teams like that hang around in games, they can come back and you don't want to lose those games."
Gildea likes what she's seen of her team thus far. In the always competitive FCIAC, she thinks her team can compete with anyone.
"I think the team has tremendous potential, but you have to put the hard work in to reach your potential," Gildea said. "It's a great group of girls, they're hard workers. I think if we continue to work on finishing and things like that, the sky is the limit and we'll be a really tough team for anyone to beat."
NEW CANAAN 2, NORWALK 0
NORWALK 0 0 -- 0
NEW CANAAN 1 1 -- 2
Records: Norwalk 0-4-1; New Canaan 3-1-0.