BOULDER—Hannah Nielsen has been named the first assistant women’s lacrosse coach in University of Colorado history, head coach Ann Elliott announced Thursday.
Nielsen, arguably one of the best players in the history of the sport, rejoins Elliott as the two were together for three of Nielsen’s four seasons on the Northwestern University roster. The two were teammates for two years in 2006 and ’07 when Elliott was an upperclassman and Nielsen an underclassmen. Elliott then returned to the program in 2009 as an assistant coach in Nielsen’s senior season.
“I could not be more excited to have Hannah join our coaching staff at CU,” Elliott said. “She will be a great asset to me and our players as we look to build the program from the ground up. As a player, she has achieved the highest level of success both in her career at Northwestern and on the Australian National Team. Her passion and vast knowledge of the game has led her to be a great coach at the collegiate level.”
Nielsen joins Colorado from Towson University, where she helped lead the Tigers to a 27-11 record in two seasons with two Colonial Athletic Association regular season championships and the CAA Championship this past season. Towson was 11-7 in 2010 in her first season and improved this past season to 16-4, a program record for victories, and the conference championship.
Prior to Towson, she was an assistant coach in 2010 at Penn State University, helping the Nittany Lions to a 10-7 record.
She graduated from Northwestern in 2009 with a degree in Human Development and Psychological Services, when she capped off a brilliant four-year career, helping the Wildcats to four NCAA Championships and a combined 85-3 record, starting all 88 of those games. The Wildcats were 20-1 her freshman season, 21-1 both her sophomore and junior campaigns and 23-0 her senior season. She helped Northwestern to a perfect 19-0 record in American Lacrosse Conference action and an unblemished 16-0 record in NCAA Tournament games in her career.
“Hannah knows firsthand the hard work and dedication it takes to build a championship team,” Elliott said. “I am looking forward to having Hannah here at CU as we start the process of building the program.”
She is the NCAA’s all-time assist leader, compiling 224 in her career, 46 more than any other player in the history of the game. She holds the top two spots for assists in a season in NCAA history, as she initially set the record with 69 assists in 2007 as a sophomore and topped the mark with 83 as a senior. She is the only player in NCAA history to hit double figures for assists in a game with 10, which she accomplished her senior season against Duquesne.
She is one of two players in NCAA history both to compile more than 114 points in a season three times and she is just one of three players in NCAA history to average more than 3.0 assists per game in a season in multiple campaigns.
She won the Tewaaraton Trophy and the Honda Sports Award as the best player in the country both her junior and seniors seasons, and she was the Big Ten Athlete of the Year as a junior in 2008. She is one of just two players in the sport’s history to win the Tewaaraton Trophy in back-to-back seasons and was just the second player to win the Honda Sports Award a second time.
She was additionally twice named the Player of the Year by the IWLCA, Inside Lacrosse, WomensLax.com and WomensLacrosse.com in those same seasons. She was a three-time first-team All-American, she was the ALC Player of the Year and first-team all-conference selection in 2008 and ’09, when she was also the MVP of the ALC Championship game. She also got the job done off the field, being named Academic All-Big Ten twice in her career.
In 2009, she was the NCAA individual stat champion for points (142), points per game (6.17), assists (83) and assists per game (3.61). She was also the individual stat champion in 2007 with her 69 assists. On top of her NCAA career assist record, she ranks second in NCAA history for points (398) and assists per game (2.55) and her 199 draw controls ranks 15th in NCAA history. She earned Northwestern’s Female Athlete of the Year honor and was the ALC Player of the Week five times and the Inside Lacrosse National Player of the Week one time.
A native of Adelaide, Australia, she was a member of the 2005 World Champion Australian National Team, which also won the silver medal at the FIL World Cup in 2009 when she was named to the All-World team. In 2005, she scored a key goal in Australia’s defeat of the United States in the Gold Medal game, while the Aussies fell to the U.S. in the title game in 2009 when she was the team’s second-leading scorer with 12 goals and 13 assists. She remains a key member of Australia’s team headed into the 2013 FIL World Cup, which will take place in Oshawa, Canada, July 11-20, 2013.
She was a three-year member of the South Australian U-17 state team and member of the South Australian U-21 state team in 2005. She played on the South Australian senior state team from 2002-05 minus the 2003 season when she played for the U-19 Australian National Team.
Colorado officially added the sport of women’s lacrosse in February and Elliott was hired in March. The team will officially begin play in the spring of 2014.