Perhaps what shows how far the No. 15 Midshipmen have come was their reaction to losing that game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. They weren’t happy about coming so close. The game was tied seven times, lastly at 10 with 17 minutes to go, so the Midshipmen thought they could have won.
“We were in a position to make a statement and I think it’s a matter of getting over that hump,” said Navy coach Cindy Timchal, whose team had fallen to then-No. 5 North Carolina, 14-7 in the first round of the NCAA tournament last seaons.
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“We’re hungry for that, so any time we have that opportunity we want to take advantage of it," she said. "By bridging the gap between an exceptional team like Northwestern and where we are now, we’re in position to strike and we want to make that next move.”
It was the first loss of the season for the Midshipmen (6-1), but it certainly had plenty of positives. Last season, they lost to the Wildcats, 20-8.
“I think we continued to put a lot of pressure on Northwestern,” Timchal said. “On the defensive end, we came up with some big stops. Our goal keeper (Annie Foky, 11 saves) had a solid game. You know Northwestern’s going to put a lot of points up. If we could have eliminated a couple of their scoring opportunities and taken advantage of a couple more of our scoring opportunities, it could be a different outcome. That’s what sports is all about and we can tweak some of those things.”
One area that Northwestern gives every opponent fits with is the draw. While Navy’s Loren Generi won five draws, the Wildcats’ Alyssa Leonard won seven and Northwestern won 17 of 29 in the game and 10 of 16 in the second half.
After Navy’s Kathy Young scored on a free position to tie the game at 10, the Wildcats reeled off five straight goals and led 15-10 with 6:51 left. The Midshipmen seized the momentum with two Jasmine DePompeo goals in the next two minutes, but they couldn’t get all the way back.
“It came down to draw controls,” Timchal said. “When the going got tough, Northwestern found a way to race it up and they got that run that they’ve always gotten on teams. I think we really did push them to the limit and we needed to have responded to that run more quickly than we did.”
Now, the Midshipmen, the three-time defending Patriot League champions, will take what they learned against a Top 5 team and apply it to the rest of their season, starting with a potentially dangerous team of Wildcats, New Hampshire, in Wednesday's 4 p.m. game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
New Hampshire is 0-4, but the Wildcats have three one-goal losses, including to No. 13 Dartmouth and No. 20 Connecticut.
“In some ways it’s easy to want to go after a top team, whether it’s Maryland or Carolina or Northwestern or Syracuse or whoever,” Timchal said. “But now we want to translate what we learned about ourselves in [Monday’s] game and whether it’s New Hampshire or whoever we’re matched up against, it’s really about us, kind of that self discovery and seeing how tough we are.”