Navy Not Satisfied with Just One Cinderella Run


Navy's Kelly Larkin returns after a sensational freshman season in which she scored at least three goals in every game.

US Lacrosse Magazine released the Nike/US Lacrosse Division I Women’s Preseason Top 20 on Jan. 8. Team-by-team previews will be unveiled on throughout January and will also appear as part of the magazine’s NCAA preview edition that mails to US Lacrosse members Feb. 1 — opening day of the 2018 college lacrosse season.

No. 10 Navy

2017 Record: 18-5 (8-1 Patriot)
Coach: Cindy Timchal (11th year)
All-Time Record: 155-43
NCAA Appearances: 5
Final Fours: 1
Championships: 0

Navy reached its first final four last year, and with all but two starters back, the Midshipmen believe that they could go further this year.

“They’re hungrier,” Navy coach Cindy Timchal said. “I don’t think it’s a surprise. Coming up short isn’t what we aspire to. All teams know that you need to be hungry and compete, and you need to really show that when you step out on the field.”

The challenge will be different this year. Navy will be one of the hunted, not a hunter, and not just in its conference, but nationally. Last year, the Midshipmen flew under the radar until their breakthrough postseason. They were second in the Patriot League regular season before putting together a run that included upending three-time defending conference champion Loyola in the Patriot League final, then knocking off Penn, UMass and defending NCAA champion North Carolina to reach the national semifinals, where they fell a goal short of Boston College.

“Everyone has to focus in on doing a little bit better, whether it’s on the offensive end or defensive end,” Timchal said. 

Navy has to replace attack Morgan Young, the offensive captain who was third on the team with 79 points and defensive captain Meghan Hubley. Young was good at drawing fouls and accounted for nearly 30 percent of their free position goals, but nearly 85 percent of the offensive production returns, 85 percent of the ground balls are back and 95 percent of the nation’s third-best draw control is back. Defensively, the Midshipmen return 82 percent of caused turnovers. 

“Having experience back is always a welcoming aspect for a team,” Timchal said. “They’ve been training the way we want them to train now if they’re juniors or seniors for three or four years.”

With senior twins Jenna and Julia Collins, sophomore standout Kelly Larkin and oft-overlooked Meg O’Donnell back, Navy has a quartet of 50-goal scorers to drive a potent offense. The defense has Ingrid Boyum back at goalie after starting every game the last two years and turnover-creating machine Blake Smith. The hope is that with the core back older, better and having experienced tournament success, Navy finds a way to take the next step.

“Having experience back always gives your team that element,” Timchal said. “You’re always blending in the experiences of the players that return and then some players that are now stepping up in a key role on the team and blending in the new players.” 

The Case For Navy

Navy brings back all but two starters – and one of them didn’t play in their final four game – from last year’s team that was clicking by season’s end. The Midshipmen got a taste of success, and that fueled a tremendous offseason. Add in some dynamic recruits, and the offense won’t miss a beat, the draw control is solid and the defense is largely intact. 

Navy has a confidence and belief in itself that wasn’t there before last year. They have a core that knows how to win the big games and will be looking to return to the final four. 

The Case Against Navy

One great run does not a trend make. Navy isn’t going to be considered among the nation’s best until they prove they can regularly knock off ranked opponents. Navy’s NCAA tournament first-round win over then-No. 7 Penn was its first-ever win over a nationally ranked opponent. 

For the program to take the next step, Navy has to be able to beat some of its top tier opponents Ohio State, Boston College, Florida, Virginia and Loyola. Navy’s offense hasn’t been as high-powered against top echelon teams as it was in its NCAA tournament run, and unless that changes the Midshipmen aren’t quite to that level.

Path to the Playoffs

Navy will host Loyola on April 7 in a matchup of the two most dominant Patriot League teams. Between them, they have won the last eight Patriot championships, four straight by Navy, then three straight by Loyola before Navy knocked it off in last year’s final.

Barring an upset, the two will likely meet then in the Patriot League tournament final May 6. Topping Loyola for the title after regular-season wins over ranked teams could have Navy soaring into the NCAA tournament. With last year’s experience and a new drive, it’s possible it could duplicate a final four run.

Players To Watch

Kelly Larkin, A, So.
54 G, 54 A

Don’t expect a sophomore slump for Larkin, who improved every game on her way to a Navy record for points by a freshman. Acclaimed as the top freshman in the country, she had hat tricks in every NCAA game. She bolsters the offense with her scoring and playmaking.

Jenna Collins, M, Sr.
114 PTS, 76 DC

The reigning Patriot League Midfielder of the Year has been doing a little of everything for the Midshipmen throughout her career. Last year, she was in their top five in goals, shots, shots on goal, assists, draw controls, free position goals, caused turnovers and ground balls. None of that will change in her final season.

Blake Smith, D, Sr.
38 CT, 42 GB

Navy’s top returning defender set a single-season record for caused turnovers last year. The first-team All-Patriot selection will be a disruptive force on defense. She has made great strides each year for the Midshipmen, and will anchor a defense that graduated Meghan Hubley.

National Rankings




Offense 8th 15.57 GPG
Defense 21st 9.83 GAA
Draws 3rd 15.83/game
Ground Balls 30th 19.70/game
Caused TO 47th 9.39/game
Shooting 29th 44.5%
FP Shooting 45th 44.0%
Yellow Cards 35th 32.0/game
Assists 5th 8.13/game
Turnovers 5th 13.65/game
Shots 7th 35.00/game

Power Ratings (Scale of 1-5)






Navy returns almost 85 percent of the scoring from the nation’s eighth-best offense. It will go to its depth to replace Morgan Young, who accounted for 53 goals and 26 assists. The Midshipmen have the firepower back to stay among the most potent offenses in the country.

5-Year Trend
Scoring Defense



Per Game

2013 3rd 7.43
2014 3rd 6.53
2015 10th 7.75
2016 29th 8.53
2017 21st 9.83

Coach Confidential
Cindy Timchal

“The little things make a difference, not one big thing. Everybody wants that one magical thing. Sometimes people will attribute something, like this is when this happened. I think when you focus on all the little things that really do make a big difference, that’s where our focus is and on ourselves.”

Enemy Lines
Rival Coaches

“Fast and athletic and confident. ... A team that plays very well together. Can that chemistry continue this season with most of their starters returning? ... Cindy has things rolling at Navy after going to the final four last year. They should be able to have another special season. ... Will bring in a lot of confidence from the final four run. Lost some sizzle at end of year, but will be back and better. ... Final four team with many returners. ... Tough and gritty team that returns some high-flying goal scorers. The Midshipmen will be confident after their impressive final four run in 2017. ... They play with so much resiliency and competitiveness, which is great since they’re defending our country. Larkin is the real deal. She and the twins, those three are high-level players. They don’t play a competitive schedule, and I think that holds them back.”

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