GATLINBURG—For the third consecutive season, the Cosby High School Lady Eagles soccer program is one victory away from achieving something never before done in the program’s short history.
After surviving a very defensive, low-scoring affair on the road, the Lady Eagles are squarely in the running for their first ever regular season district title after a gritty 2-0 victory on the road Tuesday against arch-rival Galtinburg-Pittman.
“It’s great to get this win, but I’m glad it’s over,” Cosby head coach Michelle Lane said. “We didn’t play well tonight. We played much better after the lightning delay, but the first two-thirds of the game was terrible.”
Cosby (8-1, 2-0 District 2-A) now has just Alcoa, the reigning two-time district champion, separating it from accomplishing a history-making feat for the program.
On Tuesday, Gatlinburg-Pittman (2-3, 1-1 District 2-A) made it tough for the Lady Eagles, who entered the matchup having won their last seven outings by a combined score of 33-6, including three consecutive shutouts.
The Lady Highlanders gave Cosby fits with their heavy defensive presence, playing with five linebackers and two midfielders within close proximity of Cosby’s strikers throughout the match.
“That falls on us as coaches,” Lane said. “By now we should know teams are going to put extra players back to try and keep us from scoring. We needed to be better at using our drop shots with Arden (Pack) and McKenzie (Owen).”
The Lady Eagles still came through, though, getting a pair of balls past GP’s tenacious keeper off of volleys in the box to take home the much-needed victory.
Macie Mathes had the first goal of the game in the 35th minute after getting her foot on a volley from a corner kick. Montgomery Webb scored in roughly the same fashion, pushing her shot past the keeper in the 73rd minute to seal the win.
“That was a huge moment out of Montgomery,” Cosby assistant James Groat said. “We had some great corners, and should have scored on more of them. We finally got one to hit off the keeper and she finished. That’s a great moment for a senior, and I’m so thrilled for her.”
Cosby missed on four opportunities prior to Mathes’ go-ahead goal in the first half, as quality looks at the goal were hard to come by given the Lady Highlanders’ heavy defensive presence.
“I will say, props to (Gatlinburg-Pittman’s) goal keeper,” Groat said. “She played outstanding. We had a good game plan, but they kept fighting back and made it tough on us. We’ve got to learn to overcome that, but the last 27 minutes we played really well, I thought.”
The Lady Eagles missed on nine more chances, as they upped their intensity up front in the second half, before Webb got the game-clinching goal in the net with under seven minutes left to play.
On the other end, while GP didn’t have many possessions that led to good looks at the goal, junior goal keeper Daycee Weeks preserved her fourth shutout in the goal for the season with eight saves.
With a 2-0 standing in league play, all focus shifts to next week’s matchup at Alcoa.
In order to win the district, and claim home field throughout the district tournament, Cosby must knock off the reigning two-time champs of the league on their turf, and will have just less than a week to prepare to do so.
“It’s a bit of a relief knowing we’re just one win away, but it’s going to be a battle,” Groat said. “Our girls have to understand that and be ready to come to battle next week. If we can come away with wins at GP and Alcoa, that’s a huge accomplishment in one season.
“We want to be where (Alcoa’s) at. They’ve been to state the last two years, won the district the last two years and won state two years ago. They’ve set the bar high in this district and we want to get there.”
Up first the Lady Eagles will gear up to take on inter-county rival Cocke County on Thursday. That contest will be held at Cocke County High School, and will kick off at 6 p.m. at Larry Williams Stadium.