Northwestern women pull away from Navy, 18-8

March 03, 2011|By Todd Karpovich, Special to The Baltimore Sun

When Navy coach Cindy Timchal was at Maryland, she nurtured Kelly Amonte Hiller into a four-time All-American, leading the Terrapins to consecutive national championships in 1995 and 1996.

After graduation, Amonte Hiller had a meteoric rise as a coach, eventually taking over the Northwestern program that Timchal helped develop before leaving for College Park. Amonte Hiller faced her mentor for just the second time Thursday night in Annapolis in a nonconference match-up, and her No. 2 Wildcats never trailed in an 18-8 victory.

The Midshipmen, who were playing the highest-ranked opponent in their four-year history, suffered their first loss after opening the season with five victories. The Wildcats had won five consecutive national championships before losing in the title game to Maryland last season, and they appear poised to make another run.

"Kelly and I are very close," said Timchal, who leads the NCAA in lacrosse wins with 384. "Being in her situation, I know that everyone is out to beat Northwestern. It's kind of like a burden for Northwestern to have to really step up for every game. They train extraordinarily hard and Kelly gets the most out of her athletes."

Navy's Jasmine DePompeo, who leads the nation with 25 points, finished with two goals. Shannon Smith, one of three returning All-Americans for Northwestern, had six goals and three assists, and Brooke Matthews (Friends) added two goals and two assists.

After the Wildcats opened the second half with a goal by Ali Cassera, DePompeo scored twice in a three-minute span and Navy trailed 10-6 with 25 minutes left in the game. Northwestern responded by scoring the game's next eight goals, including three by Smith, to put the game away.

The Wildcats outshot Navy, 44-17, and won 21 of 28 draws. Despite the loss, the experience of playing such a high-profile opponent could prove vital for the Mids as they shoot for their second consecutive NCAA tournament.

"This is a huge opportunity for Navy women's lacrosse to take the next step with our program," DePompeo said. "We don't always see these top teams, so when we do, it's a huge opportunity to get a feeling of what we need to work on."

Amonte Hiller also beat Timchal's Maryland team, 13-8, in the 2006 season opener. The Wildcats improved to 4-0 and have beaten three teams ranked in the top 15, including No. 3 North Carolina.

"Cindy is such a great individual," Amonte Hiller said. "She's accomplished so much. I have so much respect for her and look up to her in so many ways. She's done so much for me personally that just to be on the same sideline as her is a complete honor for me."

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