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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Lacrosse: Northwestern’s Izzy Scane wins 2024 Honda Sport Award
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June 4, 2024

Haner: A love letter to the multimedia room

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Lacrosse: Northwestern’s Izzy Scane wins 2024 Honda Sport Award

Lacrosse: Northwestern’s Izzy Scane wins 2024 Tewaaraton Award

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Lacrosse: No. 1 Northwestern falls 14-13 to No. 2 Boston College in national championship battle

May 26, 2024

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Lacrosse: Northwestern’s Kelly Amonte Hiller reaches final hurdle on path to historic milestone

Henry Frieman/The Daily Northwestern
Coach Kelly Amonte Hiller smiles with her team after defeating Florida in Friday’s Final Four. Amonte Hiller tied Cindy Timchal’s record eight national titles as a coach in Northwestern’s 2023 championship win over Boston College.

CARY, N.C. — Just outside the WakeMed Soccer Park press box, Navy coach Cindy Timchal watched two of her former proteges command their respective teams in Friday’s Final Four. 

On one end, her former player Kelly Amonte Hiller directed No. 1 Northwestern’s pursuit of a second consecutive national championship appearance. Meanwhile, Florida coach Amanda O’Leary, Timchal’s former assistant, looked to guide her unseeded squad to previously untrodden territory.

Ultimately, the Wildcats prevailed. As Amonte Hiller wrapped up her postgame press conference, she looked out the media room’s window to see her former coach and mentor standing on the stadium balcony. There, Amonte Hiller saw a woman who — alongside O’Leary — helped pave her collegiate path.

“I was recruited by Cindy and Mandee,” Amonte Hiller said. “That’s the reason why I went to Maryland. They changed my life — (I’m) forever indebted to them.”

Amonte Hiller and NU stand one game away from capturing a second consecutive national title. A win against Boston College this Sunday would give Amonte Hiller the record for the most Division I women’s lacrosse national championships as a coach.

She currently sits tied at eight titles with a coach who dominated the 1990s — none other than Timchal. Securing her first NCAA crown in 1992, Timchal and the Terrapins ripped off seven consecutive national championships from 1995 to 2001. 

During that span, Amonte Hiller, a two-time NCAA national player of the year, helped lead a pair of undefeated national championship squads in her final two seasons at Maryland. Four years later, she landed in Evanston, taking over the program where Timchal began her head coaching career in 1982.

It’s a familiar, yet remarkable tale. Amonte Hiller resurrected a disbanded program, recruiting from her local Massachusetts ties and turning pure athletes into lacrosse players. She turned a private school in the Midwest into the nation’s foremost lacrosse powerhouse, pioneering the game’s growth with every step of the way.

Two years removed from the revamped program’s inception, the 2004 quarterfinal appearance was a warning shot. Following that point, the ’Cats cruised into eight consecutive title games, winning seven national titles between 2005 and 2012.

Then, the feared power seemingly plateaued. NU remained firmly fitted near the national title conversation, but Amonte Hiller’s group couldn’t elude the Final Four for the next decade. 

Doubt set in, along with calls that the dynasty — or at least one of its pristine phases — was over. Perhaps, the hardest fall struck alongside lightning at Homewood Field in 2022. The perfect storm precipitated a fourth-quarter collapse, and the ’Cats crashed against the eventual NCAA Division I champions.

The story of the 2023 season centers around a program reborn, a dynasty reinvigorated and a legend of the game back atop her rightful perch. A dominant NU squad breezed through the end of its season, blasting beyond Boston College with an 18-6 national championship win.

Now, Amonte Hiller and her former assistant coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein — the Eagles’ coach — will once again meet on Championship Sunday in WakeMed Soccer Park. 

Just a win away from becoming the winningest coach in NCAA women’s lacrosse championship history, Amonte Hiller said everything comes full circle, drawing back to the woman whose record she stands to break. And, the coach whose team stands in Amonte Hiller’s path played for none other than Timchal, graduating from Maryland in 2005.

“I feel like everything comes from Cindy,” Amonte Hiller said. “She’s done so much for this sport. Just to see her up in the stands — so much passion… I feel really great that I still have a great relationship with her.” 

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