March 8, 2012

A Look Back at Cindy Timchal's Milestone Wins

By Clare Lochary |


Think of something you've done 400 times. It's probably something like buy a soda from the office vending machine or cleaning your room.

Now imagine if that thing you've done 400 times was winning college lacrosse games.

That's what it's like to be Cindy Timchal.

Timchal, the winningest coach in all of college lacrosse, got No. 400 yesterday with an 18-8 win over Robert Morris. She has more wins than any other college coach in men's or women's lacrosse. Here are the top five:

Rank Name (Current School/Division/Gender) Wins

1. Cindy Timchal (Navy/DI/Women's) 400

2. Jim Berkman (Salisbury/DIII/Men's) 394

3. Sharon Pfluger (TCNJ/DIII/Women's) 389

4. Pat Genovese (William Smith/DIII/Women's) 376

5. Missy Foote (Middlebury/DIII/Women's) 361

Timchal traditionally hasn't made much of these kinds of milestones, but that is not going to stop me from doing so. Here's a look at each 'century' of her career.

No. 100, Maryland

Date: April 28, 1992

Opponent: Penn

Score: 17-6

Location: Denton Field, University of Maryland, College Park, Md. What was Denton Field is now a very small quad in the middle of the Maryland campus surrounded by dorms. In trying to figure out where this field once was, I came across a photography blog written by a Terp alum who had this to say about Denton Field:

"No doubt owing to the rules that Field Hockey and LaCrosse must be played on artificial turf, the University of Maryland has a nice stadium to host these sports. Back in the day, these sports were played on Denton Field — a grassy, sort of level fenced-in field across from Denton Hall. Spectator seating was the hill next to the field. The photographer's area was, basically, that six inches between you and the fence (and when you were stationed behind goal...let me tell ya, those balls hurt when they zoom into you)."

Game Notes: Timchal got her first 76 wins during her career at Northwestern between 1982 and 1990, before the Wildcats dropped their varsity program after 1993. (As you may have heard, it has since been reinstated.) Timchal arrived at Maryland for the 1991 season, and the Terps went 14-3, advancing to the national championship but losing to Virginia. Thus her 100th win was the 10th win of the 1992 season, a rout of Penn, a team coached by Timchal's mentor, Anne Sage. Sage gave Timchal her first NCAA job as an assistant at Penn in 1979. The Terps were coming off a close 12-11 win over William & Mary, so perhaps that's why they dropped the hammer so heavily on the Quakers. The Terps had 48 shots to Penn's 15.

Fun stuff: If you peek at the press release, you'll see that it came from Maryland's legendary Cole Field House, which no longer houses the school athletic department. Looking at the stat sheet, all the starters have notations about which position they played. Everyone's a first home, third man, left attack wing, center, etc. (You never see that on stat sheets today; players are just ID'ed as attack, midfield, defense, and goalkeeper, and as long as there is one goalkeeper and 11 field players, no one cares how many players there are at each field position.)

Close observers will note that Maryland's starting second home was a "K. Manning." She may be more familiar to you as Kerstin Kimel, head coach for the Duke Blue Devils. Kimel is one of more than 20 Timchal players who is currently an NCAA coach.

"I do remember it feeling like an important game to Cindy--not because it was her 100th win but because the Penn coach was Anne Sage, who was clearly someone who Cindy looked up to," said Kimel.

Historical notes: George H. W. Bush was President, Basic Instinct was the box office leader, and the average price of a gallon of gas was $1.09. The New York Times archives note that on April 25, 1992, "Thousands of Islamic guerrillas from six major rebel groups [i.e., what would become the Taliban] have entered Kabul and firmly control many of the city's sprawling neighborhoods."


No. 200, Maryland

Date: May 3, 1998

Opponent: Loyola College

Score: 13-9

Location: Curley Field. In 1998, Diane Geppi-Aikens was the coach of the Loyola Greyhounds. She died in 2003 and Curley Field was renamed in her honor. What is now Geppi-Aikens Field is one of the largest artificial turf surfaces in the world. The Greyhounds no longer play home games there since the opening of the Ridley Athletic Complex in 2010. Additionally, the school itself changed its name from Loyola College to Loyola University Maryland in 2009.

Game Notes: It took Timchal about 10 years to get her first 100 wins; the next 100 took six years. Loyola briefly went up 3-2, but Maryland went on a three-goal run to take the lead and ultimately won 13-9. It was the Terps' last regular season game before they entered the NCAA tournament, where they won their fourth straight NCAA championship.

Fun Stuff: Looking at the lineups, there are lots of familiar names. Jen Adams, now Loyola's head coach, led the Terps with three goals. Adams officially played third home, which means her defender would have been Loyola's third man, Krystin Porcella. Porcella is now head coach at John Carroll (Md.) and coached Team USA to a gold medal finish at the U19 2011 FIL World Cup (over Adams, who was an assistant for Team Australia in the same tournament).

Additionally, current Maryland head coach Cathy Reese (listed on the roster as Cathy Nelson, her maiden name) added one goal and two assists. Quinn Carney, now a Terps assistant, had one goal and one assist. Goalie Alex Kahoe, now an assistant at Vermont, had an impressive 16 saves in the win.

"We usually saw Loyola in the NCAA tournament as well, so this was a huge game and huge win for us. It was sunny out and a very fun game to play in," recalled Kehoe. "The timing of this game is when we would really be gelling as a team, playing together. Cindy really had us playing in the moment and not focusing on any honors or awards, so chances are, we didn't know at the time it was her 200th win. She has always been very humble and coaches for the love of the game, and her players and staff. I strive to be as good of a coach as she is. One of my goals as a coach is to give my players as good of an experience as Cindy gave me."

Even the umpiring crew had a future star in its ranks. Jen O'Donnell, now a Hall of Fame Official, worked Timchal's 200th win.

"Cindy puts as much mileage on the sidelines as the kids do running the whole game," said O'Donnell. "She is always into the game, and I also remember that Cindy always had the coolest sunglasses. I don't even think we knew it was her 200th win back then. It was just another game, and Cindy wanted to win!"

Historical notes: Bill Clinton was President, He Got Game was the box office leader, and the average price of a gallon of gas was $1.03.

No. 300, Maryland

Date: March 11, 2004

Opponent: Quinnipiac College

Score: 25-3

Location: The 2004 press release just calls it "the Lacrosse Complex," but the College Park facility is now called the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex. It opened in 2003 and has been home to the Terps' women's lacrosse team ever since. (They do occasionally play games at Ludwig Field as well.) It is used exclusively by the Maryland's women's lacrosse and field hockey teams, both of which are regular NCAA champions.

Game Notes: In 2004, Timchal was in her 14th season at Maryland, and had a 223-27 record at the school. The Terps had 13 NCAA tournament bids and eight championships. Timchal stood on the precipice of being the first women's lacrosse coach to win 300 games – and she was initially denied. In the previous game, Maryland had lost to Virginia, 10-8. (It was the Cavaliers' third win in the row against Maryland at the time.) The school had issued a press release before the Virginia game noting that Timchal's 300th win was imminent, so the players knew the milestone was coming and cared about it, although they knew Timchal herself really didn't.

"I remember not only the 300th game, but I remember the week leading up to that game," said Acacia Walker, now an associate head coach at Boston College and then a junior midfielder for the Terps. Maryland was searching hard for inspiration following the Virginia loss, and found it in Timchal, and her assistants, Cathy Reese and Gary Gait.

"That day above all others, we played to honor Cindy, Cathy and Gary who built the tradition of success and who made the entire Maryland experience possible for all of us who were so lucky to have it," said Walker. "Her 300th win was without a doubt the last thing on her mind, but little did she know it was the number one thing on ours."

The stats tell the story pretty well. Maryland was up 14-0 at the half, and took 51 shots to the Bobcats' 10. Walker led the team with six ground balls and added 1 goal and two assists. Kelly Coppedge led all scorers with six goals (on just eight shots), and Timchal got No. 300.

Fun Stuff: One of the Quinnipiac defenders, Kate Danowski, is the daughter of Duke men's coach John Danowski. She is now head lacrosse coach at Bethpage (N.Y.) High School.

The Maryland website has a photo gallery of this game available online, which is noteworthy for the equipment the players are using. US Lacrosse did not mandate eyewear for women's lacrosse until 2005, but by 2004, many teams were using it, including the Terps. Those goggles from eight years ago look mighty clunky.

As Walker anticipated, Timchal was unconcerned with the accolades.

"It's the players that score the goals and get the victories for a coach -- I've never scored a goal," said Timchal at the time. "It's really something all of the Terrapin players we've had here can share and take pride in."

"This is really just a reflection of how the teams over the years have always been tough and have always played hard for victory," Navy's Cindy Timchal said of reaching 400 career wins.
© John Strohsacker/ 

The players did just that.

"As one of her players, it was incredible to be able to celebrate Cindy's success as one of the best coaches in the game, and it made us feel special because she was our coach," said Walker. "Cindy was the best coach I've ever had. She gave me, along with hundreds of Terps, the chance to follow their dreams by playing for a school rich with winning tradition and a place where you could build lifelong friendships and long-term alliances. That, moreso than the wins, was what every Maryland lacrosse player celebrated March 11th, 2004."

Historical notes: George W. Bush was President, The Passion of the Christ was the box office leader, and a gallon of gas cost $1.85. The lead story for the New York Times was "Kerry and Dean, All Forgiven, Join to Defeat a Common Foe."

No. 400, Navy

Date: March 7, 2012

Opponent: Robert Morris University

Score: 18-8

Location: Navy-Marine Corps Stadium at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. The facility seats 34,000 people and is home to the Willis Bilderback-Dinty Moore Navy Lacrosse Hall of Fame. The 2006 press release announcing Timchal's hire at Navy called Navy-Marine Corps "the finest lacrosse facility in the nation." (Compare that to "sort of level" Denton Field.)

Game Notes: The Mids opened the game with a 7-0 run. Sophomore attacker Aimee Gennaro led the team with five goals. Junior midfielder Kathy Young had a career-best eight draw controls and scored four goals. Senior captain Kierstin King had two ground balls, giving her 130 career GBs, setting a new school record.

Fun Stuff: Timchal is still mostly uninterested in the numbers game, despite 400 wins, eight national championships at Maryland and two Patriot League titles in four years at Navy.

"I'm proud of this moment, but this is really just a reflection of how the teams over the years have always been tough and have always played hard for victory," said Timchal in a release.

"Division I lacrosse programs are being added to top schools across the country and we are getting close to 100 Division I women's programs. I think that is a true reflection of the love and the passion that the United States has for lacrosse and I am very proud to be at the only service academy that has Division I women's lacrosse."

Her players still feel a little differently.

Said King in the same statement: "When we were being recruited, we knew we had a great opportunity to be able to lay the foundation of a new program with her. She has so much experience and wisdom and we trust her so much. This is very special."

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