May 14, 2009

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Bowen Day-to-Day, Hopes to Return

by Justin Feil | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

Two-time NCAA championship MVP Hilary Bowen, out since April with a torn ACL, remains a game-time decision for Northwestern, which hosts Princeton in an NCAA quarterfinal Saturday.

© TD Paulius/Midwest Lacrosse Photography

A year ago, Princeton's Katie Lewis-Lamonica returned from a mid-season ACL injury to score two goals in an 18-11 NCAA tournament quarterfinals loss to Northwestern.

The Wildcats' Hilary Bowen would like to make her own return from an ACL tear when Northwestern hosts Princeton 1 p.m. Saturday in what will be her senior finale at Lakeside Field.

"I think it's going to be a game-time decision," Bowen said Wednesday night. "It kind of depends on how the game is going. I don't really know if I'll play."

Bowen has yet to go through much more than shooting drills, or test her knee full-speed in a scrimmage situation since it was injured April 4 against California. The Wildcats have won eight games without her to improve to 20-0.

"I have all the confidence in my teammates," Bowen said. "They've proven they can win without me."

Bowen suited up ceremonially for the Wildcats' 23-6 first-round win over Massachusetts on Sunday, but staying on the sidelines isn't easy for the two-time NCAA championship MVP.

"It just gets harder every game being on the sideline and knowing it's my senior year and having my senior season cut short," Bowen said. "This is my favorite time of the year when you get into the playoffs. It's gotten harder as it's gotten into playoffs."

When Bowen went down, she had 48 goals and 11 assists and was on pace for her best year yet. Now, she is looking for a way to finish it on her terms. She is hoping to take the path of Lewis-Lamonica.

"I know she came back," Bowen said. "You're never the player you were before you got hurt without the surgery. I remember seeing her holding her own. It gives me hope in knowing there are other players who have come back.

"The hardest thing is mentally, trusting yourself and knowing all the things you could do before. I'm getting more confident every day. I'm hoping to have the opportunity to play."

Northwestern head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said that Bowen's status changes day-to-day. The Wildcats are preparing to play without her.

"I don't know how much I would play," Bowen said. "I don't know for sure if I will play. I don't know if would be five minutes. Once I get to practice more, I'll know.

"Every day, I'm getting stronger and it's getting easier to do."


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