COSBY—A year ago the Cosby High Lady Eagles soccer program was on a roll heading into the final few weeks of the regular season.

Fast forward to 2019, and not much has changed.

Tonight, the 2019 edition of the Lady Eagles have a chance to make history, once again. A year ago they came up short of their goal, but they’ll get their shot at redemption.

“I’m excited for these girls,” Cosby assistant James Groat said. “Second year in a row we have a chance to do something special. This is what we want. We want the opportunity to beat arguably one of the best programs in our league to prove we’re worthy of being in that conversation as well.”

At stake is the program’s first ever outright district title. An accolade Cosby felt it would lay claim to in 2018. The challenge? Take it away from the program that’s been the league’s best the last two years in Alcoa.

The Lady Tornadoes aren’t quite the team they’ve been the last two seasons, but have still positioned themselves to be the team to beat for the District 2-A championship for a third consecutive season.

Just being in position to stake claim as the district’s best is something head coach Michelle Lane and her assistant, Groat, have been working towards since taking over in 2015. Actually topping the league by season’s end would be a program-defining moment.

“This is a huge opportunity for these girls, this school, and really this community as a whole,” Groat said. “We’ve come such a long way since coach Lane and I started in order to have these opportunities. We want this group to be the standard that future teams reach for. But in order to do that you have to have a goal set for them to attain.”

In order to be in the spot they’re in, the Lady Eagles had to recover from a rough start to the season.

Cosby was walloped in its season opener with Cumberland Gap to begin the year, but has since ripped off nine consecutive victories, including district triumphs over Gatlinburg-Pittman and Austin-East to set up tonight’s showdown that could decide the top seed in the league going into the postseason.

“It’s awesome the way we’ve responded from that season opening loss,” Groat said. “We could’ve easily folded. The way we started the year was not a reflection of who we are. These girls have worked their butts off, and that’s why we’re in position to do something special.”

For Cosby, tonight is about not only doing something never done before in the program’s short history. It’s also about redemption.

“We thought last year was our year to get there,” Groat said. “It just wasn’t meant to be. Last year we wanted to impose our will because we knew how good we were. This year, it’s been about being humble.

“The way last year ended humbled us all. We want to be grateful for everything we’ve been able to do. Now it’s just about setting a new standard, and giving future teams that come through Cosby something to reach for.”

The Lady Eagles felt it was their time a season ago, but were turned away.

They’ve had a year to let those moments that spurned them simmer for a year. It’s been the fuel that led to the team’s drastic turnaround from the start of the season.

Now, a year later, they have the opportunity again to take what they feel belongs to them, and set a benchmark for future teams to reach for that come through the program.

“We have to play a perfect game,” Groat said. “Alcoa has done everything we want to do, been everywhere we want to go, and essentially represents everything we want to be. On Tuesday, we’re going to have to bring our absolute best if we’re going top them. I’m excited our girls get that chance, though.”

Cosby and Alcoa will kick off at 6:30 p.m. at Alcoa High School. You can get the full recap on the Newport Plain Talk website, or in Thursday’s edition of the newspaper.

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