EVANSTON, Ill. -- Well-known for their tradition of blazing new trails in the sport of lacrosse, Hall-of-Fame head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller and the seven-time NCAA champion Northwestern Wildcats will add an exciting chapter to that legacy on Saturday. The fifth-ranked 'Cats and visiting USC are set to square off in iconic Wrigley Field, home of Major League Baseball's Chicago Cubs, just three days after the famed ballpark celebrated its 100th birthday. The event marks the modern era's first lacrosse game and highest-level women's athletics contest to be staged at Wrigley Field.
Tickets are available on gameday by visiting the Wrigley Field box office located behind home plate at the corner of Clark and Addison. All tickets are general admission and $10 per person.
How to Watch
For those outside Chicago looking to watch from home, the Big Ten Network will be on site at Wrigley Field to provide a live, national TV broadcast of the game as well as an online stream via BTN2Go.com, which is free when users supply their cable subscription account credentials. Fans are also invited to access a free online radio broadcast courtesy of WNUR Radio and stay up to date with live tweets on @NU_SportsLIVE.
Bet You Didn't Know
It's fitting that Saturday's historic lacrosse event follow on the heels of this week's 1910's-themed Chicago Cubs homestand, because that's also the last time any type of lacrosse was played inside the Friendly Confines. Courtesy of the Cubs team historian, check out a few facts about where this game fits in Wrigley Field history:
From 1917 to 1920, the Illinois Athletic Club held their annual field day at the park. The yearly event included a day filled with boxing, wrestling, tug-of-war and track and field events, but it was a men's lacrosse match that was the main event for all four field days at the park.
The first such game was played on Aug. 18, 1917, and featured the Athletics of St. Catharines (Ontario, Canada), the amateur Canadian champions, and the Calumets of Chicago. Before the game and between quarters, John Philip Sousa's Great Lakes Naval Training Station band performed.
The last lacrosse game at Wrigley Field was then played on Sept. 25, 1920, when the Crescent Athletic Club of Brooklyn defeated the Illinois Athletic Club, 10-4, to win the Druid Cup, regarded as the U.S. Championship.
The NU-USC lacrosse match also is the highest competitive level of women's athletics at Wrigley Field since the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League played at the park on July 18, 1944. Milwaukee played South Bend in the first game with Kenosha facing Racine in game two of a doubleheader played under portable lights.
In recent seasons, Northwestern also has participated in the debut of women's lacrosse at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas (2011), Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. (2012), and the Los Angeles Coliseum (2013).
The Last Meeting
February 9, 2013
Los Angeles, Calif.
The Trojans In Brief
On the heels of an 8-10 inaugural season, USC stands 8-7 on the year in 2014 and 6-3 within the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF), and its three conference losses have come by a combined four goals. But the Trojans arrive at Wrigley Field riding high following their first-ever win over a ranked opponent, a stunning 11-10 victory over No. 13 Stanford last week on Easter Sunday.
USC's big win over the MPSF-leading Cardinal was played in the historic Los Angeles Coliseum, the first time the Trojans lacrosse program graced that field since their varsity debut last Feb. 9, 2013, against Northwestern. The Wildcats cruised to an 18-5 win on that history-making occasion, a game in which NU's Alyssa Leonard went off for an NCAA record-tying 15 draw controls, which remains her career high. USC's Amanda Johansen had the honor of scoring the first goal in program history.
Aside from the obvious coaching connections, there are a few more ties that bind the Wildcats and Trojans programs this season. USC sophomore Caroline deLyra is the younger sister of 2013 Northwestern Lacrosse alum Alexa deLyra as well as the Trojans' leading scorer with 39 points this spring. Also, freshman Annie Ruland (25 goals) was the high school running mate of NU rookie Lydia Cassada as the tandem led Milton High School to four consecutive Georgia 6A state championships.
Former 'Cats Have Trojans On The Rise
Like a lot of Northwestern's opponents these days, longtime fans of Wildcats Lacrosse will have no trouble recognizing some familiar faces on the USC sideline tonight.
After making the decision to add women's lacrosse as his school's newest varsity sport in 2010, USC athletic director Pat Haden immediately focused his head coaching search on someone who knew a little bit about starting a program from scratch. Haden hand-picked Kelly Amonte Hiller's former two-time All-American and assistant coach of four years, Lindsey Munday, to head up the program, now in its second varsity season. Munday was just 26 years old when she was introduced as the first head coach of the Trojans.
Originally from Mountain Lakes, N.J., Munday came to Evanston and played a key role in NU's first two championship seasons of 2005 and 2006 before making the quick transition to assistant coach. By the time she left NU in 2010, Munday had collected five national titles as a player and coach.
When building her coaching staff, Munday tapped one of the stars of those championship-winning NU squads of the last decade, Hilary Bowen. A three-time All-American and two-time MVP of the NCAA championship, Bowen racked up 219 career goals for the Wildcats, including a then-school-record 81 in 2008.
Even since taking over in SoCal, Munday has continued to extend her influence to the playing field as well. In 2012, she was named the team captain of the U.S. Women's Lacrosse National Team, and last summer guided the team to gold in the 2013 FIL World Cup in Canada. In November, Munday was tabbed the 2013 Lacrosse Person of the Year by Lacrosse Magazine, joining her mentor Kelly Amonte Hiller (2008) as the only two female recipients of that honor since its inception in 2007.
Cardiac 'Cats Primed for Postseason
The 2014 Wildcats opened this season with back-to-back one-goal victories over ranked ACC opponents in what proved to be a harbinger of how the rest of NU's regular season would play out. The 'Cats have played a total of six one-goal contests -- most ever in a regular season under Amonte Hiller -- including its two most recent outings, experience that figures to serve the Wildcats well during their foray into the postseason.
That journey begins next week when NU hosts the 2014 American Lacrosse Conference Tournament at Lakeside Field in Evanston. The 'Cats have claimed six tournament titles in the seven-year history of the event and have met the Florida Gators in each of the last three title games. This year marks the final event in the conference's history before NU joins Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Maryland and Rutgers in forming the Big Ten Women's Lacrosse Conference next spring. Tickets to the tournament will be sold as day passes at the entrance to Lakeside Field, beginning Thursday with an opening-round triple-header.
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