The women's lacrosse team from Northwestern University out-lacrossed the women's lacrosse team from Syracuse University on Sunday to win the program's seventh national title in eight years, a laudable feat of consistent ass-kicking that becomes all the more impressive when you consider the key word "Northwestern." When I covered sports there in the school's medieval pre-lacrosse days, the Wildcats' only national title in any sport was a musty men's fencing title won the same year "Citizen Kane" premiered. To put that in perspective, the University of Chicago, which dropped out of the Big Ten in 1946 to focus on winning Nobels and designing South American dictators' economies, had as recently as 2005 still won twice as many national championships as NU.
But lo! Along came Kelly Amonte Hiller, one of the great American lacrosse players, to resurrect the long-dead lacrosse program and become, as we now know, one of the great American lacrosse coaches. The Chicago Tribune did the maths and noticed that since the NCAA started running women's sports titles 30 years ago, no other Illinois school has won a single championship. Northwestern, meanwhile, has won every lacrosse title since 2005, save for a merely scintillating runner-up finish in 2010.
The school couldn't win squat before Amonte Hiller. The state would be oh-fer without her. Since '05 her teams are 168-9. This is considered all the more preposterous considering that, in the Tribune's words, "Just 21 Illinois high schools had girls lacrosse when Northwestern won its first title in 2005. There now are 41, although the level of play still is far below the East Coast areas where Amonte Hiller finds most of her talent." Hear that, Illinois schools? This woman is carrying your entire state. Get on the stick and little basket thing.