Bowen Learns From Former Teammate (Women’s Lacrosse)

Wade Askew

BY Wade AskewThe Daily Northwestern

From the time Hilary Bowen considered playing at Northwestern as a senior in high school, the young attacker admired the Wildcats’ Lindsey Munday.

At the time, Munday was a junior working on a then-school-record 54 assists, earning her All-American status. She also led NU to the school’s first team national title in any sport since 1941.

Meanwhile, Bowen observed from a different time zone while becoming a first-team All-American for the third time at Brighton High School in Rochester, N.Y.

Only a few months later, she was playing with Munday in Evanston. While Bowen temporarily moved to midfield, Munday again was named an All-American at the freshman’s natural position, attack.

As a senior, Munday made an effort to help Bowen and her fellow freshmen make the transition from high school to championship-level college lacrosse.

But it is only this year that Munday started getting paid to be Bowen’s mentor.

Living up to the legend

“I’ve always looked up to her,” Bowen said. “She’s an amazing player – she’s on the US team. … I’m in awe when I watch her play.”

Such praise is usually reserved for untouchable legends, not former teammates.

But it is clear that to Bowen, Munday is legendary. So it is fair to assume that when Munday talks from her new position as assistant coach, Bowen listens.

Coach Kelly Amonte Hiller hired Munday in the offseason, and the first-year coach has been instrumental in shaping the nation’s most potent attack. Her imprint on Bowen has been especially deep.

Bowen plays Munday’s old position behind the net at attacker. Both are left-handers custom-made for the position and are triple threats: passing, scoring and dodging.

It is the latter that Bowen has particularly excelled at this season, constantly darting around the field and knifing through two or three defenders at a time.

In one of her four goals against Johns Hopkins in the American Lacrosse Conference championship game Sunday, Bowen juked her defender, split two more, and stuck a shot into the top-right corner of the net as her slight 5’4″ frame was checked to the ground.

“I think that they both have different skills that compliment their teammates,” senior Kristen Kjellman said. “Lindsey is a tremendous feeder and really could find anyone anywhere on the field and really pinpoint passes. I think Hilary is also a great feeder, but I think one of her strengths is also dodging and faking like she’s going to pass and going to goal – she’s really a threat there.”

In her senior year, Munday netted 44 goals and 50 assists; Bowen has 48 goals and 32 assists through the conference tournament.

While there has been some adjustment moving from a four-year starter to a sophomore this year, it has been eased by Bowen’s talent – and the fact that the four-year starter is seemingly omnipresent to instruct the youngster.

Learning from the best

They say to be the best, you have to learn from the best. If true, Bowen is on the fast track to stardom.

“For Hilary to have Lindsey as a mentor and as a coach, it’s just been so great because Lindsey knows how the system works; she was the leader of our system in the past,” Amonte Hiller said. “I think that any time Hilary’s had any trouble with things, she can just go right to Lindsey, and Lindsey gives her a tip, one small thing to focus in on that will help her get better.”

Munday and Bowen have watched film together extensively, often focusing on how to effectively pace a game. As one of two quarterbacks of the offense – the other being fellow attacker Hannah Nielsen – Bowen is responsible for pushing the envelope at times and laying off at others.

It is this aspect of the game that has taken the most adjusting for Bowen. And that’s where Munday comes in.

“It’s hard being attacker, because I’m not running up and down the field, so I don’t have the aspect of knowing how tired everyone is,” Bowen said. ” I’ve watched tons of film with her – actually the coaches have given me tape of her playing so I can learn by example of decision making. … If I’ll make a mistake out on the field she’ll come and say, ‘Hilary, maybe you should’ve slowed it down that time,’ or ‘That was a great opportunity, you should’ve gone to goal.'”

It is not new for Munday to be teaching younger players. In fact, it is debatable whether or not her relationship with Bowen is any different now than it was last year when the two were teammates.

As a senior, Munday assumed the added load of mentoring incoming players. It was a sense of responsibility that led Munday to make the extra effort to help.

“Going into their freshman (year) it’s a little scary, and I know from my experiences it’s the older girls who helped me out when I was younger,” Munday said. “I just wanted to be able to do that as much as I could. So as a coach, it’s about trying to do that in any way that I can.”

Bowen looked up to Munday last year to the extent that their relationship has barely changed now that Munday is a coach. It also helps that Munday is not what Bowen would call an “overbearing” coach, but instead “acts like your friend and your teammate.”

While the relationship has been tweaked now that Munday is in an authoritative position, Munday was always, in a way, a coach to Bowen.

Making her own legend

For all her admiration for Munday, Bowen has shined in her own right this season. Bowen is second on the team in both points and assists and is third in goals. She ranks 13th in the nation with 4.44 points per game.

It is the fact that she has done all of this as a mere sophomore that truly excites Amonte Hiller. She called Bowen’s maturity “overwhelming,” praising the way she has assumed the role of an offensive leader.

Still, Bowen maintains that she is nowhere near the player Munday is or was.

“I can only hope to be like type of player she is someday, maybe after playing here for a few more years,” Bowen said. “I, without a doubt, without hesitation, would say she is (the better player).”

While Munday declined to comment on who is the superior player, she deflected all praise to her pupil. And with two years left to improve her game before leaving NU, perhaps Bowen could become the type of player she sees in her mentor.

“She’s got an amazing amount of potential,” Munday said. “I’m just excited to see where she’s going to go.”

Reach Wade Askew at [email protected]