The New Canaan-Greenwich girls lacrosse rivalry was put on hold last season, since the Rams and Cardinals didn't face each other. But it returned in a big way Tuesday, as the longtime contenders in the FCIAC dueled in a back-and-forth battle reminiscent of their thrilling matchups from 2008-2010.

In a game of runs and spurts, a pivotal three-goal Rams' rally late in the second half proved to be the difference.

Senior Elizabeth Miller recorded a hat trick, while juniors Catherine Granito and Katie DeMarino scored two goals apiece to power New Canaan to an exciting 10-9 victory over Greenwich at Cardinal Stadium.

With the win, the No. 2 Rams raised their record to 11-3 overall and 7-1 in the FCIAC.

"It was another big test," New Canaan coach Kristin Woods said. "Our kids played hard, but there's a few things we have to fix for next time. Greenwich definitely came to play -- I thought they gave a great effort."

Rams senior goalie Bailey Pilder also helped make it a happy birthday for Woods, making seven saves.

"Bailey in goal was spectacular," Woods said. "It would have been a different game without her."

The Cardinals (7-6, 6-2 FCIAC) were paced by hat tricks from seniors Anne Dunster and Maddy Graves. Dunster also assisted on two goals for GHS, which entered halftime tied with the Rams at 5-5.

"I'm really excited for our team for how well they played," Greenwich coach Caitlin Young said. "We had a tough loss Saturday (15-4 vs. Yorktown) but we had a good practice yesterday, the after going down 3-0 today, we went on a 5-0 run, which shows that we were fighting. Time ran out on us today, but we had some good team goals and production."

After the Cards closed to within 7-6 on Dunster's tally off a feed from sophomore attack Paige Mautner with 19:56 remaining in the second half, the Rams scored the next three goals to open a 10-6 advantage. Sophomore Campbell Armstrong converted a free position shot, Granito displayed her speed and shiftiness in tallying in transition and senior Isabel Taben scored after the Rams patiently worked the ball around, making it 10-6 with 6:46 left.

"Spreading out and creating those lanes so we could take it to goal and moving were key for us offensively," Miller said. "When they got back into it, we were really stagnant on offense."

Freshman attack Maggie O'Gorman brought GHS to within 10-7 at the 5:27 mark, then Dunster scored off a Natalie Paletta pass and Graves tallied off a Dunster feed, bringing the score to 10-9 with 3:23 remaining.

"The past couple of games we fell short of what we were capable of doing, but today, we came out really intense and we had a lot of motivation," Graves said. "Just a few things fell through the cracks that kept us from winning this game."

Said Dunster: "We went back to just playing lacrosse and not over thinking everything. Today, we gave our best effort, now we need to give this same effort the rest of the season."

Leading 10-9, New Canaan won the draw, then executed an efficient stall, preventing Greenwich from gaining possession the final three minutes of action. A pair of goals from DeMarino and one from Miller gave the visitors a 3-0 advantage 4:12 into the opening half. But the Cardinals scored five straight goals to seize a 5-3 edge. Senior Megan Collins' free position goal gave the home team its first lead at 4-3 with 5:41 to go in the first half, then Mautner scored off a turnover, giving GHS a 5-3 lead with 1:36 remaining.

Going almost 20 minutes without scoring, the Rams ended the drought, as Granito tallied twice the final 56 seconds, evening the score. Meanwhile, the Rams' defensive play picked up, led by senior Matty Novick and Pilder in goal.

"In the beginning it was rough, we didn't communicate a lot," Novick said. "Later on, we noticed what they were doing and played a lot better."

Senior Kylie Ginsberg also played well in goal, making nine saves for Greenwich, which was led defensively by senior Caitlin Brady and in the midfield by Paletta.

"Before the game, we talked about going hard to every ground ball, every 1-on-1," Paletta said. "It was an awesome game to play in, it's always a pleasure to play against New Canaan."

The Rams host Ludlowe Thursday, while the Cardinals visit Ridgefield.

"We're getting better each day," Miller said. "We look at today as a learning experience."

WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT

Tuesday's game benefited the Wounded Warrior Project, which is a charity and veterans service organization that offers programs, service and events for wounded veterans of the military actions following the events of Sept. 11, 2001. T-shirts, magnets, bracelets and other items were sold at the game, with the proceeds going to the Wounded Warrior Project organization.

david.fierro@scni.com; 203-625-4423

NEW CANAAN 10, GREENWICH 9

NEW CANAAN 5 5 -- 10

GREENWICH 5 4 -- 9

Records: New Canaan 11-3; Greenwich 7-6

Scoring: NC -- Catherine Granito 2 g, 1 a; Isabel Taben 1 g; Elizabeth Miller 3 g; Katie DeMarino 2 g; Samantha Steward 1 g; Campbell Armstrong 1 g; G -- Anne Dunster 3 g, 2 a; Megan Collins 1 g; Maddy Graves 3 g, 1 a; Maggie O'Gorman 1 g; Paige Mautner 1 g, 1 a; Goalies: NC -- Bailey Pilder (7 saves); G -- Kylie Ginsberg (9 saves).