As the Maryland women's lacrosse team prepares for its ninth-straight national semifinal appearance, the Terps have their eyes on an NCAA-best 13th national championship.
As one of the most successful programs, Maryland has a wide reach over women's college lacrosse, one that will extend Friday when the Final Four begins.
Current Navy coach Cindy Timchal won seven straight national titles and eight overall as the Maryland head coach from 1991-2006. Under her tutelage, current Maryland coach Cathy Reese, Penn State coach Missy Doherty and Boston College coach Acacia Walker developed as players in College Park.
Now, they will all square off in the Final Four.
"As their former coach, I am very proud of Acacia Walker, Cathy Reese and Missy Doherty," Timchal said via teleconference Monday. "Rising to the level of lacrosse to where we're the four teams battling for the national championship, it's very special."
Timchal turned Maryland into a national powerhouse before taking over a Navy program new to Division I lacrosse in 2007. Ten years later, she led the Midshipmen to their first-ever Final Four thanks to a string of upsets over No. 7 seed Penn, Massachusetts and No. 2 seed North Carolina.
Reese not only played for Timchal from 1995-1998, but also coached under her as an assistant for five seasons before leaving to coach Denver, only to succeed Timchal at Maryland three years later.
The 11th-year Terps coach is proud of Timchal's coaching tree reconnecting on Memorial Day weekend, especially given Navy's improbable run to the semifinal. However, Reese was not shocked by Navy's impressive performances in the NCAA tournament.
"It's hard to get to the Final Four," Reese said. "You can't put anything by Cindy. You never know what she's going to be able to accomplish when she steps out."
During their sessions on the teleconference, each coach lauded Timchal's influence on, not only their playing careers, but their decisions to become coaches.
Doherty called Timchal an "environment creator," who brought a group of players with character and turned them into a perennial national title contender. Doherty now brings that influence with her coaching.
Walker, who played under Timchal and Reese when the latter was an assistant, said she knew she wanted to be a coach the moment she met them.
For Timchal, in the same way her former players weren't stunned by Navy claiming a Final Four spot, she wasn't surprised by the other three programs that punched their tickets to Gillette Stadium.
She said she values the success of her former players 10-20 years after coaching them as a sign she's done her job.
"I've been used to playing against many of my former athletes," Timchal said. "This is, I guess, just one part of the journey of coaching."
The No. 1 seed Terps (21-0) face Doherty's fourth-seeded Nittany Lions on Friday with the possibility of meeting Walker and the Eagles or Timchal on Sunday with a victory.
The fact that each coach went through College Park to get where they are, to Reese, is another sign of the culture within the Maryland program.
"I'm a proud alum of the University of Maryland and I'm proud of this program and the tradition behind it," Reese said. "[Timchal] has had a huge impact on all of her players—as you see with these three coaches in the Final Four—and all of their lives."