Editor’s note: Thanks for joining us over Memorial Day Weekend 2020 to help you heal those lax-blues… we didn’t even get to say goodbye… LaxAllStars.com and our social outlets will be pumping out a non-stop stream of content from Thursday until Monday completely focused on some of the greatest NCAA National Championship moments from the past. We hope you stick around.
Breaking up Maryland’s long reign as the monarchs of NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse, Northwestern hit the Memorial Day Weekend scene in 2005 and didn’t slow down until after winning a seventh National Championship in 2012. Once the Wildcats made their first appearances in the finals, they repeated the visit for eight-consecutive seasons.
Like clockwork, in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012, the Wildcats were on top of the world.
There were a lot of unknowns surrounding Maryland lacrosse star Kelly Amonte Hiller taking over as head coach at Northwestern in 2003. Mostly that she had no head coaching experience and the team was on a skid since its strong beginning under Cindy Timchal. Committing deeper resources into the school’s only varsity lacrosse team, Northwestern tasked Amonte Hiller with righting the ship.
After two seasons of building, Northwestern made it to the 2004 NCAA Quarterfinals in the third season under Amonte Hiller. In season number four, the Wildcats were National Champions. That’s when the avalanche took off.
From 2005 to 2012 the Northwestern women claimed every title, except 2010 when they lost to Maryland in the finals. In that time, the Wildcats produced two, two-time Tewaaraton Trophy winners in Kristen Kjellman (2006, 2007) and Hannah Nielsen (2008, 2009) and another Tewaaraton recipient in Shannon Smith (2011). Five athletes also claimed seven Honda Sports Award honors for the top female athletes in lacrosse; Kristen Kjellman (2005, 2006, 2007), Hannah Nielsen (2008, 2009), Shannon Smith (2011) and Taylor Thornton (2012). The list also includes Big Ten Suzy Favor Athlete of the Year awards for Hannah Nielsen (2008) and Shannon Smith (2011) and four IWLCA Coach of the Year honors for Amonte Hiller (2008, 2009, 2011, 2012). Through 2020, Northwestern has crafted 52 USILA All-Americans and 11 IWLCA positional Player of the Year recipients.
We dug up some clips from the 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012 NCAA DI National Championships to get through the 2020 lacrosse-less blues.
Memorial Day Weekend is forever.
Northwestern 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012 Championship Highlights
This article was originally published May 24, 2020.