New Canaan High School field hockey coach Erin Gildea called Elizabeth Miller her "super sophomore" following Thursday's game against rival Greenwich High -- and for good reason.

With both teams battling hard to generate scoring opportunities for 50 minutes, it was evident that the FCIAC matchup was going to come down to which team capitalized on one of its final chances.

The opportunistic Miller made sure the Rams cashed in.

Miller's goal off a penalty corner with 10 minutes, 20 seconds remaining in the second half propelled New Canaan to a 1-0 victory over Greenwich in an important mid-season FCIAC game at Cardinal Stadium.

"Every time you play Greenwich it's a huge game," said Gildea, whose team in unbeaten in its last seven. "We know they are having a great season and are a very strong team and we also know we are going to be battling with each other in the standings. This was a well-played game for both sides."

After earning a penalty corner, the Rams (6-1-1-0) scored the game's lone goal. Senior Bea Eppler sent the insert pass to senior Bridget Falcone, who made a cross pass to Miller. Positioned near the top of the circle, Miller put a drive past Cardinals goalie Freddie Bancroft, giving New Canaan a 1-0 lead with 10:20 left.

"It was a great cross, I got low and just shoved it in the goal," Miller said. "We had to take advantage of our opportunities and we finally took advantage of one near the end of the game. We're really improving with each game."

Forcing two more penalty corners shortly after scoring, New Canaan threatened to pad its lead. Yet Bancroft (nine saves) and the Cardinals stood strong in the face of pressure, keeping it a one-goal game.

"Freddie made a lot of nice saves, she has been the difference maker for us," Cardinals coach Ally Orrico said. "Freddie and our defense attacked the ball, forcing the other team to take bad shots. They really do a good job of keeping us in games."

The game concluded with Greenwich on the attack. The Cardinals (5-3-0-0) generated five corners the final 6:45, but didn't tally the equalizer. Juniors Ali Larkin and senior Emily Brash put the pressure on in the Rams' circle, but defenders Bea Eppler and Alexa Ozimek worked hard to clear the ball out of harms' way.

"We had a lot of opportunities at the end, unfortunately we were not able to convert," said Orrico, whose squad reached the Class L semifinals last season. "I'm very pleased with our effort though. Our intensity level was much better today than it was against McMahon (a 1-0 loss) on Wednesday."

Said Greenwich senior right midfielder Emma Montgomery: "The score doesn't reflect how well we played. After halftime we really picked it up and got on fire. We calmed down and began going to the ball."

The Rams also raised their level of play in the second half.

"The first half our nerves got to us a little bit and we were getting beat with their speed," said Gildea, who received six saves from her junior goalie Emma Ball. "We made some adjustments at halftime and got back in it."

Greenwich, which has lost two straight after winning four in a row, will look to get back on track Saturday against host Fairfield Ludlowe. New Canaan faces Cheshire Saturday at Dunning Stadium.

"This is a game we can definitely build on," Montgomery said.; 203-625-4423\

New Canaan 1, Greenwich 0

NEW CANAAN 0 1 -- 1


Records: Greenwich 5-3; New Canaan 6-1-1.

Goals: NC -- Elizabeth Miller. Assists: NC -- Bridget Falcone. Goalies: NC -- Emma Ball (6 saves); G -- Freddie Bancroft (9 saves).