Fall Ball Focus: Cindy Timchal Focused on Building Championship Culture

PHOTO BY JOHN STROHSACKER

Reagan Roelofs, who now wears No. 14, has been a staple in the starting lineup for Navy since her freshman season in 2019.


SPARKS, Md. — Cindy Timchal is fixated on rebuilding a championship culture at Navy.

Timchal’s resume at the Naval Academy is, of course, prolific. Since she was named the first coach of the program in 2006, Timchal has guided the Mids to six Patriot League titles, seven NCAA tournaments and one final four appearance — a 2017 run that made Navy the first women’s team from a service academy to make an NCAA final four.

The 2021 regular season was up and down for the Mids. Bookended by four-game winning streaks, it also featured a three-game skid in the middle. The Mids’ campaign came to a close with a 13-12 overtime loss to upstart Lehigh in the Patriot League quarterfinals.

“For us, coming off of last season and coming short and not getting an NCAA bid, we’re just hungry to have joy in playing,” Timchal said at a fall ball event at USA Lacrosse headquarters earlier in October. “At the same time, we want to get better and work harder so we’re prepared for the spring.”

To that end, Navy has scheduled a gauntlet of opponents this fall. At USA Lacrosse, Navy played Denver, Johns Hopkins and Towson — all teams that enjoyed varying levels of success last spring. The Mids have also played historically elite programs like Maryland, Syracuse and North Carolina. James Madison, Duke and Ohio State were also on the schedule.

“This is really tough competition and wonderful competition for Navy women’s lacrosse,” Timchal said.

Timchal relies on the grittiness of her players, an inherent benefit of individuals who choose the path of a service academy. There’s a mental toughness there that most other programs can’t match. That in itself helps create something of a championship environment. Now it’s just about adding some big-game performances into the equation.

The Patriot League will operate as one unified conference in 2022, going back to its traditional setup after 2021 saw the conference split into two divisions to reduce travel during the height of COVID-19.

As Navy seeks to win its first conference crown since 2018, the Mids will operate in a new NCAA landscape in which athletes have the power to transfer schools with relative ease. Navy and other service academies can’t benefit from the transfer portal, so they’ll have to make things happen in house. Timchal calls Navy “true blue” in that regard.







“We’re led in our draw and attack by Reagan Roelofs, one of our captains, and then Christine Fiore, who’s one of our defender/midfielders,” Timchal said.

“Whether it’s Denver that has a transfer or Towson was able to keep a fifth-year player, I think they deserve those opportunities. We’ll go with a little bit of youth and some senior experience. We have to be tough and ready to go.”

Four double-digit goal scorers have graduated, including points leader Nicole Victory. Graduating key contributors isn’t a new hurdle for Timchal and Navy to overcome, and with Roelofs in place as a game-changer on offense and the draw, the Mids are already in good position.

Gil Eby (21 goals, one assist) could step into a larger role, and Lindsay Beardmore (10 goals, eight assists) is coming off a promising freshman campaign in which she earned the conference’s rookie of the year award.

There’s a healthy competition in goal between senior Abbi Young and sophomore Jo Torres, both of whom started six games last spring. For what it’s worth, it was Torres who started and played the entirety of Navy’s loss to Lehigh to end the season, perhaps giving an indication of who might get the starting nod come February.

Healthy competition is what fuels the Mids, whether it be positional battles or a cavalcade of quality opponents in the fall. It’s all part of Timchal’s plan to get Navy back to the top.

“Our excitement really transcends the idea that we’re on the field playing fall ball,” she said. “We’re just thankful for every day we go out.”

NAVY AT A GLANCE

Another young talent with considerable potential, Isabelle Thornburg was named the Patriot League rookie of the week on Feb. 15, 2021 … Caroline Stefans comes from a Navy family, as grand uncle Harold Amerau Jr. (1965) and cousins Britney Harris (2010) and Colin Amerau (15) each attended the Naval Academy … Beardmore’s great uncle, Clayton “Bud” Beardmore, was the Maryland men’s lacrosse coach from 1970-80 and is a member of the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame … Junior Zayda Fredericks has visited every continent except Antarctica … Junior Casey Feinstein earned Maryland’s Strongest Woman (teen) in the 2017 Strongman competition while setting state records in the squat, bench press and deadlift in powerlifting … Senior Alexis Bell was a 2021 finalist for the Yeardley Reynolds Love Unsung Hero Award … With 267 career draw controls, Roelofs will likely finish her Navy career second in program history in draws won behind all-time leader Loren Generi (493).

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