Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Women’s Lacrosse: Bringing in the best

When Northwestern coach Kelly Amonte Hiller recruits, she knows she has a select group of high schools on which to focus.

Nine of NU’s players competed alongside a fellow Wildcat before coming to college.

“I think it’s great,” Amonte Hiller said. “To be able to get one great player from a high school is a bonus, but to get a couple or even a pipeline, it makes things easier.”

In her seventh year as coach, Amonte Hiller has found a hotbed of lacrosse players that are willing to make the trek west to NU in Westwood High School in Westwood, Mass., and Brighton High School in Rochester, N.Y.

Westwood produced former NU player and two-time Tewaarton trophy winner Kristin Kjellman and current Cats Meredith Frank, Ali Jacobs and Sara Harrington.

Junior Hilary Bowen currently has a 31-game goal scoring streak and has been a formidable part of the team’s offense this season alongside her high school teammate, sophomore Danielle Spencer. The Brighton duo has accounted for 92 of NU’s 222 goals this season.

Star power is not the only reason Hiller pursues athletes from these schools.

“The kids start to get familiar with your school,” Hiller said. “At places like Brighton or Westwood you really know what you are getting because you have great high school coaches, and the kids are really disciplined and really fit into my style of coaching.”

And potential recruits have been impressed with Amonte Hiller and the Cats’ recent success.

“I think it’s definitely unique,” Frank said. “I don’t think many schools have what we have and our high school instilled the qualities that Kelly looks for. I think we are fortunate that we have girls that are determined to play at this level and it’s very exciting.”

Other high schools with more than one current Cat are Upper Arlington in Upper Arlington, Ohio, and Hinsdale Central in Hinsdale, Ill.

Due to NU’s successes, other teams are starting to look at Brighton and Westwood to find the next Bowen or Kjellman.

“It has opened up a whole new thing, not just for Northwestern,” Bowen said. “We have so many girls going to D-I schools now. Plus, Danielle (Spencer) came here.”

The success of the Westwood and Brighton alumni has led college coaches to pay more attention to their regions. It has also made NU a household name in upstate New York and Massachusetts.

Bowen said she had never heard of NU before they started to send her information about the school.

“When I first looked here, I didn’t even know what Northwestern was when I started getting stuff from them,” Bowen said. “Then I went and it opened a whole connection with my school.”

Having current players sell the school to their high school friends and teammates has helped Amonte Hiller get recruits to commit for reasons other than coaching or location.

“I think Kristin was a large part of why I came here, and she spoke so highly of Northwestern both as a school and as a program,” Frank said.

Frank had the opportunity to pay Kjellman’s advice forward by convincing her sister Alex to join her next year.

This weekend Amonte Hiller can show potential recruits why they should choose NU as the Cats face off against two ranked opponents, No. 17 Johns Hopkins on Friday and No. 11 North Carolina on Sunday.

“I don’t think anyone comes here thinking this is going to be an ordinary school,” Frank said. “It is one of the top academic institutions and one of the top athletic institutions, and think that you go in knowing that and it’s the best of both worlds.”

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Women’s Lacrosse: Bringing in the best