When Maryland women's lacrosse coach Cathy Reese graduated from Maryland in 1998, then-coach Cindy Timchal gave her the opportunity to become an assistant coach for her alma mater.
Reese hadn't thought about coaching up until that point, but took the job and never looked back. As an assistant coach from 1999 to 2004 and head coach beginning in 2007, Reese has led the Terps to seven national championships, in addition to her four as a player.
When the Terps play Navy in the NCAA tournament quarterfinals Saturday, Reese and Timchal will face off, pitting Reese against her former mentor and the coach responsible for cementing Maryland as one of the best lacrosse programs in the nation.
"Back when I played, she just gave us the freedom to be creative. The sport was fun and we were able to really enjoy it and we weren't overanalyzing anything," Reese said. "One of the things that I've taken from that … is just to continue to allow my players and encourage them to be creative, to have the freedom to play."
At the helm of the program from 1991-2006, Timchal led Maryland to eight national championships, including seven straight from 1995-2001.
The impact of Timchal's tenure in College Park is felt across the country. Three of the six other teams competing in the NCAA quarterfinals boast a coach who either played or coached at Maryland at some point.
Florida assistant coach Nadine Hadnagy played under Reese. Boston College coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein and Northwestern coach Kelly Amonte Hiller, played under Timchal.
"It's the best program in the nation," attacker Megan Whittle said. "The best players play here and the best players that leave coach as well and create their own dynasties in other parts of the nation. … It says something about the program and how great it is and for me to be a part of it is something I'm really proud of."
Timchal left Maryland in 2007 to start the women's lacrosse team at Navy and since then the two programs have only met once, when a Reese-led Maryland beat Navy 19-6 in the first round of the 2011 NCAA tournament.
This year, Navy boasts an 18-3 record and won the Patriot League tournament. The Midshipmen beat Loyola 19-15 to advance to their second consecutive quarterfinals after making the first Final Four in program history last season.
Timchal, meanwhile, is excited to go back to her old home for the upcoming matchup.
"It's an exciting opportunity for both programs," Timchal said. "If you go deep into the tournament, you're going to face the best of the best, and there's no better team than Maryland."