EVANSTON, Ill. -- After months of preparation, Kelly Amonte Hiller and No. 1 Northwestern are set to take the first steps toward defending their 2012 NCAA title, opening the 2013 campaign with an exciting road swing to Los Angeles this weekend. The Wildcats make their debut at 5 p.m. CT Friday against No. 14 Massachusetts and on Saturday will face host USC at the heralded L.A. Coliseum in the Trojans' first-ever game as a Division I program.
On The Web
Wildcats fans will have plenty of chances to follow along as NU aims to begin the 2013 season on a winning note. Friday's contest with the Minutewomen will stream live on NUsports.com, while video of Saturday's marquee matchup with Southern Cal will be available on GoTrojans.com. Fans can also follow @NU_SportsLIVE on Twitter for live updates throughout both outings.
'Cats Discuss Playing in L.A. Coliseum
'Cats Earn Top Spot to Open 2013
Being the defending NCAA champion has its perks, and for the 2013 Wildcats, one of those perks is opening the 2013 season with the No. 1 ranking in the initial Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) Coaches Poll. Northwestern received 383 votes and 12 first-place nods from the voters, putting the 'Cats ahead of the other three schools that reached the 2012 NCAA semifinals -- No. 2 Syracuse, No. 3 Florida and No. 4 Maryland. NU will have plenty of opportunities to defend its top ranking, with the 'Cats scheduled to face seven of the other nine teams ranked in the top 10 to begin the campaign.
Scouting the Minutewomen 2012 Recap: 19-2, 7-0 Atlantic-10 Postseason: NCAA Tournament qualifier (Lost to Maryland in first round) Head Coach:Angela McMahon (third season, Northwestern '04); 36-5 at UMass Leading Returners: Katie Ferris (Sr., A): 59 goals (eighth nationally), 98 points in 2012; Lauren Terracciano (Sr., A): 36 goals, 32 assists, 22 ground balls in 2012; In the Cage: Rachel Vallarelli (So.): 12 GP, 46 saves, 49 GA, 8.12 GAA Last Meeting: Northwestern 19, UMass 7 (March 17, 2012) All-Time Series: Northwestern leads, 11-1
Scouting the Trojans 2012 Recap: N/A (First season) Head Coach:Lindsey Munday (first season, Northwestern '06); 0-0 at USC USC Inaugural Season Outlook:USCTrojans.com
From Friend to Foe
The rapid growth of Kelly Amonte Hiller's coaching tree will be on full display when the Wildcats meet up with Massachusetts and Southern Cal in L.A. this weekend. UMass head coach Angela McMahon ('04) and USC head coach Lindsey Munday ('06) are two of five former Amonte Hiller pupils who are now head coaches in Division I women's lacrosse, and both McMahon and Munday have added former Wildcats to their coaching staffs (Brianne LoManto ('12) at UMass and Hilary Bowen ('09) at USC). In all, Amonte Hiller boasts 18 former players or assistant coaches who have joined the coaching ranks in D-I women's lacrosse.
One More Familiar Face...
In addition to the familiar faces standing opposite one another on the sideline this weekend, there will also be a few on-field participants with close relations to their opponent. Northwestern senior midfielder Alexa deLyra will have the chance to square off with her younger sister, Caroline, who is a freshman on the up-and-coming USC squad. The natives of Brightwaters, N.Y. on Long Island both sport jersey No. 25 for their respective teams.
L.A. Memorial Coliseum Provides Unique Setting for USC Debut
Southern Cal is introducing its brand new women's lacrosse program on the grandest of stages, hosting top-ranked and defending NCAA champion Northwestern at one of the most historic sports venues in North America. Officially designated as a National Historic Landmark, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is a venerable 93,000-seat stadium that has twice hosted the Olympic games (1932 and 1984) as well as Super Bowls, World Series and that currently serves as the home field of USC football. The unique setting will be nothing new for the Wildcats, however, who in recent seasons have played in Cowboys Stadium and Gillette Stadium -- both home to NFL franchises -- and on Tuesday learned their 2014 schedule will include the first-ever lacrosse game played at historic Wrigley Field in Chicago.
All She Does Is Win
With seven NCAA championships in her first 11 seasons at the helm of the Wildcats, Kelly Amonte Hiller has rapidly climbed the all-time coaching wins list in collegiate women's lacrosse. Amonte Hiller enters 2013 needing four victories to reach 200 for her career (196-30) and is ninth on the sport's career wins total despite having six fewer seasons under her belt than anyone else in the top 10. Her .867 winning percentage is tops among active D-I coaches and second all-time behind former Penn State coach Gillian Rattray (.877).
New Face in the Cage
Northwestern will have a new anchor to its defense when it takes the field this weekend following the graduation of three-year starting goalkeeper Brianne LoManto, who last year ranked in second in the country in goals against average (7.17). The Wildcats have a pair of sophomores battling for time in the cage in Bridget Bianco (Moorestown, N.J./Moorestown) and Brooke Jones (Edina, Minn./Edina), both of whom saw time coming off the bench in relief of LoManto during their rookie campaigns. Bianco shined in the preseason Champion Challenge against Team USA, staring down the world's best attack unit to the tune of 12 saves.
2013 Season Tickets Now on Sale!
Northwestern Lacrosse invites fans to be part of NU's drive for an eighth national championship in the last nine years by securing season tickets for the 2013 campaign, now available for purchase online or by calling the NU Athletics Ticket Office at 888-GO-PURPLE (467-8775). Season ticket packages offer fans savings of 15 percent off gameday ticket prices and also provide several benefits exclusive to NU Lacrosse season ticket holders, including a commemorative NCAA championship banner.
As they did in 2012, the Wildcats will follow a season-opening California road trip with a visit to the opposite coast and the state of North Carolina. NU is slated to face No. 5 UNC on Friday, Feb. 22, before continuing on to open its American Lacrosse Conference schedule on Feb. 24 at Vanderbilt.