College Women’s Lacrosse Profile: Northwestern Lacrosse Attacker Katrina Dowd Recovered From A Torn ACL In High School To Star For The Wildcats In 2009 National Lacrosse Championship


Katrina dowd northwestern lacrosse

Katrina Dowd's high school ACL injury scared some Division I programs off the recruiting trail. Northwestern stuck with Dowd, who rewarded the Wildcats with an explosive junior campaign.

Amonte Hiller first noticed Dowd’s athleticism and stop-and-go ability at Yorktown (N.Y.) High School. Former Northwestern assistant coach Alexis Venechanos went to the same school as Dowd, so Northwestern knew Dowd’s background and had a good relationship with her coaches.

 

 

That was a good thing for Dowd, because timing wasn’t on her side as a high school junior. Right as the recruiting process started to heat up, Dowd tore her ACL and missed the remainder of the season. Several teams stopped recruiting her, but Dowd said Amonte Hiller always had confidence in her ability.

“A lot of things were going through my head, but I’m thankful that it happened because I got to see who believed in me,” Dowd said. “Kelly honestly told me that she still believed in me, thought I would come back, and still wanted me to be a Northwestern Wildcat. That stuck with me, and I knew that was the coach I wanted to play for.”

 

Northwestern trailed rival Penn 12-11 in the first overtime period of their 2009 NCAA tournament semifinal. After surrendering an 11-7 lead in seven minutes, the Wildcats’ backs were against the wall. The Quakers had put it to them, and Northwestern was looking for an answer.

It found one in Katrina Dowd.

With 0.2 seconds left, Dowd picked up a loose ball and flipped a no-look, over-the-shoulder shot from her knees to the upper right corner. No one believed it went in, not even Dowd. Umpires reviewed the play and found that Dowd had beaten the clock with the unthinkable.

“Given the goal differential, the fact that it was a semifinal game and that there were zero seconds left make it all amazing,” Northwestern attacker Danielle Spencer said. “Every time I think about that goal, it just blows me away. Katrina always makes great plays, but she’s never made a play like that. We still laugh about it today.”

Dowd’s highlight-reel, game-tying goal was the defining moment of Northwestern’s run to its fifth straight national championship, and the most impressive goal of her career. The circus-like tally also broke a record, as she shattered the previous NCAA tournament mark of 17 goals. It culimated a surge in the second half of the season.

When senior Hilary Bowen suffered a torn ACL halfway through the season, Dowd was shifted from her normal midfielder’s position to attack. Coach Kelly Amonte Hiller told Dowd she would have to step up. She responded by scoring 49 goals in the team’s final 11 games.

“Unstoppable would be a good word for it,” Amonte Hiller said. “When Hilary went down, we knew that Katrina was our next best offensive talent. I can’t say I could have predicted what happened last year. When Hilary went down, I was hopeful Katrina could fill her shoes, but she did way more than I could have anticipated.

“And it wasn’t like she wasn’t garnering attention. By the final four, they were keying on her defensively, and she still was creating opportunities for herself and making things happen.”

Early in the season, no one could have predicted Dowd’s offensive explosion. No less than a month before Bowen’s injury, Dowd didn’t even start for the Wildcats during a three-game stretch in early March as the team tried to change things up offensively.

“It was a motivational thing that I needed to step up my game and work on a lot of things,” Dowd said. “It wasn’t something I talked about with Kelly, but I knew what it meant and took it as it was — a wake-up call. There are other people who are just as good, and I can’t take my spot for granted.”

Not having to take part in every draw, run the length of the field and exert herself defensively, Dowd asserted herself offensively once in Bowen’s former position. She scored four goals against California when Bowen went down. Then, Bowen started mentoring Dowd in practices on little things to look for and when to be aggressive. With the added confidence, Dowd took off.

Dowd’s resourceful goal against Penn embodies her as a player. The then-junior fired a first shot that was turned away by Quakers goalkeeper Emily Szelest, but Dowd didn’t give up on the play. She plays with a relentless motor that would make the Energizer Bunny envious. She also has incredible stick skills, which is why teammates call her Trix. Dowd earned the nickname in high school, and it stuck at Northwestern.

But Dowd’s personality on the field is the antithesis of her personality off it. She is as easygoing, soft-spoken and care free away from the turf as she is intense, determined and concentrated on it.

“She’s pretty laid back about things; a real individual,” Amonte Hiller said. “She has her own style. The thing that epitomizes her most is that she rolls up to practice on a skateboard and says, ‘All right, let’s play,’ and turns the switch on.”

Amonte Hiller first noticed Dowd’s athleticism and stop-and-go ability at Yorktown (N.Y.) High School. Former Northwestern assistant coach Alexis Venechanos went to the same school as Dowd, so Northwestern knew Dowd’s background and had a good relationship with her coaches.

That was a good thing for Dowd, because timing wasn’t on her side as a high school junior. Right as the recruiting process started to heat up, Dowd tore her ACL and missed the remainder of the season. Several teams stopped recruiting her, but Dowd said Amonte Hiller always had confidence in her ability.

“A lot of things were going through my head, but I’m thankful that it happened because I got to see who believed in me,” Dowd said. “Kelly honestly told me that she still believed in me, thought I would come back, and still wanted me to be a Northwestern Wildcat. That stuck with me, and I knew that was the coach I wanted to play for.”

Only one other coach knows Dowd close to the way Amonte Hiller does. Team USA coach Ricky Fried, the head women’s coach at Georgetown, recruited Dowd in high school and works with her as part of the U.S. national team.

And just as Dowd answered Northwestern’s questions in the semifinal game, she answered Fried’s uncertainties about her injury.

“Her game was a quick game, and that was a concern coming off of the knee injury — is she still going to have that step to change direction?” Fried asked. “But the injury hasn’t hampered her at all, and she’s exceeded expectations.”

Dowd was a last-minute addition as an alternate on the U.S. team that traveled to Prague for the 2009 FIL World Cup. Though she didn’t see any game action, Dowd said she learned how to prepare herself for every game like a professional. In just a short time, she impressed Fried.

“Her joy of playing the game sets her apart. She has — for lack of a better word — a hop or bounce in her step,” he said. “She’s a spark plug. I don’t look at her as a physically imposing player, but she’s hard to keep track of. It’s always like, ‘Where the hell did she go now?’”

But Team USA won’t play for the World Cup for another four years. So, instead, Dowd has another, more immediate goal in mind.

“My big hope is number six,” she said. “That’s what we put down as our goal every year. I don’t want the senior class to leave without the prize. That’s the last memory I want.”

http://www.laxmagazine.com/college_women/DI/2009-10/news/102909_dowd

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