lizabeth Miller is no stranger to championship appearances. Last year, the Boston College lacrosse defender was a key factor in her squad’s stunning postseason run. Although the Eagles fell short in their final game against No. 1 Maryland, Miller accomplished an impressive feat just by stepping on the field. The game marked the fifth championship appearance of her lacrosse career.
Throughout high school, Miller never finished any of her four seasons with the New Canaan Red Rams without appearing in the Connecticut Class M state championship. Her three titles are certainly due to the play of her team as a whole, but also serve as a testament to her individual skills—it’s not easy to play on one of the region’s top teams as a freshman, and it’s even more impressive to be named captain for two years.
Miller’s success, however, did not come by chance.
In elementary school, Miller was already hooked on lacrosse. Her father, Joel, had been a two-time All-ECC player at Lehigh, and got a stick into the hands of each of his four children as soon as they were fit to play.
As Elizabeth puts it, “Lacrosse was bred in us.”
Miller proved to get a good grasp of the game at a young age, and Joel saw great potential in his daughter early on.
“I personally knew she could make it to the next level even then,” he recalled.
ew Canaan head coach Kristin Woods, who worked with her in middle school, also saw the young star had passion and a real future in the game. In fact, Miller’s intensity may have even gotten the best of her at times. Woods notes that her aggression paid dividends at a young age, but had to be reeled in before she made the next steps to the high school level in order to avoid racking up too many yellow cards.
Instead, Miller began to take control of her most dangerous weapon: her feet. Through training with Woods, Miller’s speed and agility improved tremendously, and by the time high school rolled around, she had become a pure all-around athlete. Miller eventually became a captain for her school’s basketball and field hockey teams, in addition to lacrosse. She believes her success as a defender—a position she didn’t even play until her senior year of high school—stemmed from her constant ball-hawking nature in those fall and winter sports. Throughout her time as a midfielder and a point guard, Miller learned how to guard cutters, fight through picks, and simply see how people played on offense. These skills carried over into the spring, where she became a captain for New Canaan at the start of her junior year.
Miller always knew she wanted to play a sport in college—the problem was that she didn’t know which one to choose. Joel and Elizabeth’s mother, Judy, both agree that she may have been as good, if not better, at field hockey, and their claim certainly isn’t far off the mark. Miller’s field hockey career consisted of multiple Fairfield County Conference awards, and even a state championship in her senior year. One thing her parents are sure of, though, is that it was the aspect of being part of a team that really got her to love both sports.
“More than anything in sports,” Judy affirmed, “she really just wants the whole team to be successful.”
It’s true. While every coach emphasizes the message of being a team player, Miller embodies it. On defense, she may not be racking up the most points for the Eagles, but it’s clear that’s never been at the forefront of her mind. More than anything, Miller loves helping her peers get better on the field. She said that “it’s awesome” whenever she is able answer any questions her teammates have.
“I love to help them out and help them become better on the field because as a unit on defense if one person isn’t playing well the whole group suffers,” Miller said. “I feel like helping my teammates is the best way I can lead.”
Woods, too, can attest to Miller’s selflessness. Now in her 11th season with the Red Rams, she has seen few athletes have such a positive influence on teammates and those around them as Miller.
“As a defender you don’t get much recognition, but it doesn’t matter to her,” she said.
“Whatever the team does as a whole is all she cares about. She leads by example, and just her intensity alone is so contagious.”
Miller said the one reason she loved BC so much before commiting to the school was the authentic feel she got from coaches and players, and that the energetic and fun atmosphere was something she knew she wanted to be a part of. As much as her teammates value her own presence as a leader, Miller praises her head coach, Acacia Walker-Weinstein as the reason for her team’s success.
“She believes in you as a person and as a player and I think that her trust in us—pushing us in ways that help us become better people on and off the field has helped me a lot, and I know at the end of the day I can go to her for anything,” she said.
Whether it was the warm welcome from her team or simply her talent, Miller has appeared to make a seamless transition into Chestnut Hill. Miller has played in every game for the Eagles since stepping foot on campus, and her sophomore season was a breakout year for both herself and the team. Recording a team-high 43 ground balls last season, Miller received second-team All-ACC honors, and helped seal BC’s trip to Gillette Stadium for its first-ever national title game.
"She leads by example, and just her intensity alone is so contagious." high school coach, Kristen Woods
lthough the junior’s loyalties lie with Eli Manning’s Giants, the 25-mile trip to One Patriot Place was one to remember. Because the team didn’t even have to leave the state of Massachusetts, Eagles faithful were able to fill up the stadium to see their team compete on the biggest stage.
“It was crazy playing in there,” Miller remembers. “We were on the field yelling to each other, but you couldn’t hear anyone because the fans were so loud.”
Still, Miller’s experience in big games allowed her to keep a level head throughout the battle, and although the team that had made it to the championship game in six of the past seven years prevailed, the closely contested game capped the most successful season in Eagles history. Miller headed up a defense that held top-25 opponents to 10 or fewer goals a total of four times. Her 31 caused turnovers that season were a career high, and she truly put her name on the map after a game against Yale last March in which she recorded eight draw controls, tied for the fifth-most in a single game in Eagles history.
Despite all these accolades, Miller may be most impressive in the classroom. In both her year’s at BC she has received the Athletic Director’s Award for Academic Achievement, and was a two-time Academic All-American in high school, which supplemented her three first-team All-State honors. Having recently completed an internship this past summer with Edgewood Management, Miller—a Carroll School of Management student with concentrations in finance and entrepreneurship—has a bright future ahead of her. Even then, her lacrosse career is far from over.
Perhaps it is the support Miller has received from friends and family over the years that has allowed her to compete at such a high level. Both parents try to make it to as many games as possible, and Elizabeth recognizes the two certainly have different forms of input on her game.
“My mom always tells me to have fun and not worry about the X’s and O’s, while it almost seems like my dad can get more into it than me,” she said. “He’s a diehard BC fan.”
Joel wouldn’t be the only one. Elizabeth expressed her amazement at the fact that so many former players make it to BC lacrosse games on a regular basis, and that their dedication in both home and away games has made an impact on the team as a whole.
We were on the field yelling to each other, but you couldn't hear anyone because the fans were so loud." Elizabeth Miller
ans and alumni alike that have been able to bear witness to the Eagles’ play this season can tell you just how much potential the team has. Now 6-0 with three wins over top-25 opponents, Miller and the Eagles are well on their way back to the postseason. She reminisces about the energy and adrenaline rush of that final game last season, as just getting the taste of a championship possibility was enough motivation for the team to keep powering through its schedule. While Miller has already hoisted her fair share of trophies, the coveted National Championship her team desires is once again within reach, and she’s more than ready to put last year’s game in the rearview mirror.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” she said, before quickly adding, “well … hopefully not really once-in-a-lifetime.”
Featured Image by Keith Carroll / Heights Editor
Photos by Celine Lim / Heights Staff