December 21, 2009

This article appears in the December issue of Lacrosse Magazine. Don't get the mag? Join US Lacrosse and its 300,000-plus members today to start your subscription.

Best of 2009
Male Player | Female Player | Male Performance | Female Performance | Male Coach | Female Coach| Game | Comeback | Breakthrough | Look | Mainstream Moment | Fan

'09 Rewind: Hannah Nielsen, Female Player of Year

Where would you begin with Northwestern’s Hannah Nielsen?

No female lacrosse player achieved as much in 2009 as did Northwestern senior and Australia native Hannah Nielsen.

© John Strohsacker/

A second straight Tewaaraton Trophy?

A second straight Honda Sports Award for Lacrosse?

A fourth straight NCAA championship?

An All-World attack performance for Team Australia at the 2009 FIL World Cup?

Whatever the game, wherever the venue, Nielsen did it all in 2009.

Despite wearing a bull’s-eye as the undisputed queens of lacrosse from Evanston, Ill., Nielsen led the Wildcats to a 23-0 and the program’s fifth consecutive national title. She piled up plenty of numbers, but also came through in the clutch, netting the game-winning goal at then-No. 10 Virginia in an 11-10 regular-season win.

Try these stats on for size: 142 points (tops in the nation), 83 assists (NCAA single-season record), 10 helpers in a Feb. 17 game against Duquesne (NCAA single-game record), six more in the 21-7 thumping of North Carolina in the NCAA final (a title-game record), and a record 16 assists in the 2009 NCAA tournament.

No other player achieved as much in 2009 as did the Wildcat senior and Australia native.
Said Northwestern coach Kelly Amonte Hiller: “She is one of the most dominant players that I have seen.”

That dominance nearly carried over to the World Cup, where Nielsen scored 12 goals and passed out 13 assists to help Australia to the silver medal — for which the Aussies settled only after their rally from a four-goal deficit to Team USA came up just short in the gold medal game.

It’s a shame her mainstream playing career, save for a likely international appearance in 2013 and perhaps beyond, is over. Can’t we suit her up in Major League Lacrosse? Heck, if Bellarmine’s men and Louisville’s women can scrimmage…


Katie Rowan, Syracuse
Despite being a well-publicized offensive weapon, the first-team IWLCA/US Lacrosse All-American scored 112 points (54g, 58a) in her senior season.

Katrina Dowd, Northwestern
Dowd stepped her game up when teammate Hilary Bowen got hurt, scoring 75 goals to pace the Wildcat offense.

Devon Wills, Team USA
From a three-horse race, Wills emerged as the leading U.S. goalkeeper (27svs, 6.69 GAA) for the world champions.

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