On Sunday, Navy women’s lacrosse coach Cindy Timchal will make her first trip to Northwestern as an opposing coach since she left the Wildcats in 1990.
Timchal’s teams have played Northwestern – a few times while she coached at Maryland and last year with Navy – but never in Evanston. While Timchal is excited to be on the sideline again at the school where she began in her coaching career 31 years ago, her feelings aren’t about nostalgia.
“Nostalgic-wise, it’s all different,” Timchal said. “They play out on the lakefront and we played in the stadium. I’m just excited to have our team be exposed to this opportunity. We’re going to take full advantage of it regardless of the outcome, regardless of the score.”
The Midshipmen take a 10-game winning streak to Northwestern, but they have no delusions about what they face against the defending national champions. Last season in Annapolis, the Wildcats beat Navy, 18-8.
“It’s very exciting for our team to play the No. 1 team. That’s what everybody wants,” Timchal said. “We’ve been playing great lacrosse, but we’re playing a team in Northwestern that is No. 1 in the country. They’re undefeated and they have 90 percent of their team back from last year and a couple freshmen that are making a difference already.
“We understand the depth of the program and the level of commitment. It’s not like Navy has any less commitment to be the best they can be. We just have to get to a level that we can believe that we can be on the field with a Northwestern. I know that takes time.”
Navy has the chance to play the Wildcats twice, because they are coached by one of Timchal’s many proteges, Kelly Amonte Hiller, a four-time All-American at Maryland who resuscitated the Wildcats in 2002 after the program was shut down a year after Timchal departed for Maryland.
The Wildcats quickly became a national sensation, winning their first NCAA championship in just their third season. In 10 years, Amonte Hiller has taken them to six titles and has a 182-28 career coaching record.
She has a way to go, however, to catch Timchal’s 404 wins --the most ever by a college lacrosse coach – as well as her eight national championships at Maryland, including seven straight.