Lacrosse: U.S. U19 squad, Illinois all-stars face off in friendly at Martin Stadium


(Benjamin Rosenberg/Daily Senior Staffer)

The U.S. U19 national team faces off against the Illinois All-Stars at Martin Stadium. The game gave Kelly Amonte Hiller’s team a chance to prepare for the upcoming U19 World Cup.

Benjamin Rosenberg, Summer Managing Editor

Kelly Amonte Hiller needed players for her U.S. U19 national team to compete against as a tuneup for the August World Cup. So she asked fellow coach John Dwyer to form a team of local stars and organized a friendly Tuesday evening at Martin Stadium, the field where she built one of college lacrosse’s most dominant programs.

Dwyer, the highly successful girls’ lacrosse coach at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, put together a group called the Illinois All-Stars, made up of top Chicagoland high school and college talent, as well as recent college graduates.

“We’ve played some different groups,” Amonte Hiller said. “It’s great to be able to play against other people and test ourselves. We shared the ball pretty well, and it’s exciting to see the kids come together.”

The Illinois All-Stars included eight current and former Wildcats, including Lindsey McKone, Lauren Gilbert and Dwyer’s daughter Brennan, all of whom starred on the 2019 Final Four team.

Amonte Hiller, a seven-time national champion with NU who has coached the U19 national team since February 2018, said the Illinois All-Stars provided a sufficient test for her squad, which won 18-7.

“We’re really excited about how this team is shaping up,” Amonte Hiller said. “It’s been a lot of fun to be here at Northwestern, (to) showcase the great things we have to offer here and be a great host to the national team.”

Dwyer’s team had not played together outside of a few practices, and McKone said the team only formed two weeks ago. The U.S. team jumped out to a 7-0 lead after the first quarter and was ahead 11-2 by halftime.

A few Cats stars also contributed to the U19 national team, including attacker Izzy Scane, who scored two goals, and goalkeeper Madison Doucette, who made nine saves. Attacker Greta Stahl won six of her nine draw controls.

“We all represent the country,” Dwyer said. “Anything we can do to help their team perform better in the World Cup is good for everybody. If Kelly asks me a favor, and it’s something we can do, we’re happy to do it. It was fun for us, it was fun for them. We gave them a pretty good test — we pushed them a bit.”

McKone said it was not awkward to play against her NU teammates, saying it was like facing off against them in practice. Amonte Hiller added that she was focused solely on the U.S. team and didn’t think about the fact that she had NU players on both sides.

The Illinois All-Stars made things interesting in the third quarter, outscoring the U19 national team in the period to pull within 14-6. But the U.S. team returned to dominance in the fourth to win easily.

Amonte Hiller’s team will head to Buffalo, New York for a final training camp later this month before the U19 World Cup begins August 1 in Peterborough, Canada.

“It’s hard to play with people who you don’t know how they play,” McKone said. “We don’t have a set defense or a set offense. We made the most of what we had, and I hope we gave them a good enough look offensively and defensively to help them practice and get better for the World Cup.”

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