By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 10/19/08
Sure, there are pressures that go with playing for four-time defending national champion Northwestern.
But, perhaps even more challenging is the pressure of dealing with intense practices under Wildcats coach Kelly Amonte Hiller.
“She makes it such a competitive environment,” said Northwestern senior attacker Hilary Bowen, a two-time NCAA Tournament MVP. “It’s like life or death out there (at practice) and everyone’s going at it
“I think that translates as to how we play in the game.”
Sunday afternoon before a large crowd at Radnor High, Bowen had three goals to lead the Wildcats to a 16-8 conquest of North Carolina in the Fall Ball finale for both teams. The game capped a busy weekend for the ‘Cats and Tar Heels, who both played in the Princeton Tournament Saturday.
“It’s been a great opportunity, the whole weekend,” said Amonte Hiller, who has a 111-24 record in eight years. “Princeton is always something we look forward to and this is the summation of our fall.
“UNC gives us great competition. It was such great weather, a great location and we had a lot of people, which was awesome. It made for a perfect last day of Fall Ball.”
The Tar Heels, who went 13-7 last year and fell to Syracuse, 13-11, in the quarterfinals, seized a 4-3 lead on a goal by Corey Donohoe with 8:36 left in the first half. But the Wildcats tallied four goals in a span of 3:38 late in the half and took an 8-5 lead into intermission.
North Carolina scored first in the second half, but Northwestern pumped in four unanswered goals to take a 12-6 lead. In all, 12 players scored for the ‘Cats while 2008 Tewaaraton Trophy winner Hannah Nielsen and Brooke Matthews added a pair each.
“We’ve had a pretty tough week,” Amonte Hiller said. “We had Notre Dame on Wednesday. We actually played all four teams (Notre Dame, Princeton, Syracuse and Penn) that we played in the (2008) NCAA tournament this week.”
Bowen, a second-team All-American last year who scored 81 goals, said her team’s depth may be its biggest strength.
“I think that came into fall with a lot of great new freshmen and we just wanted to see what we can do out there,” she said. “We have so many people work into the game. It’s great we have such great players and everybody gets an opportunity to play and contribute.”
With Bowen, along with Nielsen, Donohoe, senior midfielder Meredith Frank, junior midfielders Katrina Dowd and Danielle Spencer and senior goalie Morgan Lathrop returning, the Wildcats are going to be clear-cut favorites to win a fifth straight national title. But the team is able to deal with high expectations.
“There are always expectations on us and people coming after us,” Bowen said. “But that’s what’s fun about this game, and being in this position is awesome.
“Kelly is such a competitor and she has been in that situation (she was a two-time national champion and Player of the Year at Maryland) and she knows how to keep our heads in the game.”
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