Loyola's move to the Patriot League will put women’s coach Jen Adams on the opposite side of her coach at Maryland, Cindy Timchal, one of her greatest mentors.
Navy’s coach for all six of its NCAA seasons, Timchal coached Adams, a three-time national player of the year and the first Tewaaraton Award winner, on four national championship Terps teams from 1998-2001. This season will be the first where they square off as head coaches.
Adams already has coached against two of her other coaching mentors, Syracuse coach Gary Gait, who assisted at Maryland during her run, and Maryland coach Cathy Reese, Adams’ teammate for a year and briefly a Terps’ assistant. Adams assisted Reese for two years coaching at Maryland and three at Denver.
“It’s going to feel strange,” Adams said of her meeting with Timchal which won’t come until the Patriot League regular-season finale on April 19.
“I’ve been coaching for 12 years now as and I’ve gotten older, I think what becomes weird with all these people who have taught you so much is you find yourself in a game teaching your players a lot of the things you’ve learned from them and yet you’re in opposition… I have so much respect for Cindy as a coach and hopefully we’ll start to build a nice rivalry.”
The arrival of No. 10 Loyola threatens Navy’s recent dominance of the Patriot League.
The No. 12 Midshipmen have won four straight conference titles and 18 straight games against conference opponents. They last fell to Lehigh in the final regular-season game of 2011.
The Greyhounds were picked as the coaches' preseason favorites to win the league before they've played a game in it. They come from a more competitive conference, the Big East, where they won tournament titles in 2011 and 2012. Both times they upset Syracuse.
Although this will be the first meeting between Loyola and Navy, Timchal, in her 32nd season as a Division I head coach, is no stranger to the Loyola program. While she coached at Maryland, the Terps had some monumental battles with Greyhounds teams coached by the late Diane Geppi Aikens. Theirs was one of the best rivalries in Division I women's lacrosse. In 2003, Loyola won a battle of No. 1 vs. No. 2 9-8 to hold onto the top ranking.
Now, Timchal hopes to renew the rivalry through the Midshipmen.
"Any time you add (a team), you raise the conference up a notch," she said. "Loyola has been a solid team, so it makes things really exciting for us. We're thrilled. First of all it's creating another local rivalry. They obviously were top contenders in the Big East and now being in our our conference, we know how tough they are and they have a long rich tradition before Jen Adams with Diane. It's exciting to have this local flavor."
Timchal is used to seeing her former players on the opposing sideline with 20 now coaching in the college ranks including at five of the Top 10 Division I teams.
"I truly enjoy it," she said. "To have the Maryland players that are now coaching and at that level of coaching, it's great to see. Obviously Jen stands out as an indcredible player at Maryland and then as one of the best players in the world and she's an incredible coach at Loyola. It's great to see. It's inspiring to see that the women are staying in the sport and they're coaching at the highest level. "
The Midshipmen open their season Saturday at Longwood. The Greyhounds open a week later at Virginia on Feb. 15.