Caitlin Cosme

When Caitlin Cosme decided to switch from tennis and concentrate on another sport at the age of 10, she disappointed her family.

"I come from a very big tennis family," she said. "I started off playing intramurals for New Hyde Park under somebody pretty amazing. He took me under his wing and saw something in me and now he started the team and allowed me to be part of the team and ever since that I loved it."

(Her sister Taylor is a sophomore at Brown University and plays for the tennis team).

Caitlin Cosme caught the soccer bug and as it turns out, tennis' loss was soccer's gain. She has turned into one of the key members of the Albertson Fury 1998 team, which competes in the Elite Clubs National League.

Cosme was named Albertson's ECNL player of the year at its Hall of Fame banquet earlier this month and gave the closing speech for the club's class of 2017.

"I truly wouldn't be anywhere where I am without the coaches, without the players that I have played with," she said. "Albertson is a very great club. They have produced so many top players that honestly it is an honor to say that you have played for Albertson, especially if you live in New York because everyone knows who they are."

Her Albertson Fury 1998 teammates might know Cosme as a defender, but in some respects she has lived a "double life" as a forward at Herricks High School in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

Cosme said playing striker "is so out of my element." Yet, she tallied eight goals and three assists last fall.

"I have a lot fun doing it," she added. "With high school, competition isn't as strong, so I can play forward and kind of get away with it."

For Albertson, Cosme is a center back, "Which is total opposite ends of the spectrum."

"Sometimes if we're winning by a lot I'll ask the coach if I could play forward and he says, sure," she said. "I've played outside at some of the camps I've been to. When I was younger I played midfield more than I do now just because we have such great midfielders on the team and around the country that it's not necessary for me to try out there. But my main position is center back."

Playing defense is not an easy task. You have to keep focused for 80 or 90 minutes. Any drop off could mean a goal for the opposition. No one realizes that more than the 5-5, 140-lb. Cosme.

"It's difficult especially we're such a great team and we play such high competition," she said. "So, it's definitely very hard. You have 10 other girls on the field. So, you're also not trying to keep yourself alert and focused, but try to keep them in it and engaged. It does get difficult at times and that is one of the weaknesses on our team., too. But I think that you need someone to bring the team together, and keep them engaged and keep focused. It has led us to a lot of success in the end.

"Games can change in seconds. You can go through a whole game. It can be repetitive and it can be boring. All of a sudden in a blink of an eye, the game's changed and a goal is in. You always have to stay engaged and focused because those little mishaps when you're not could cost you at the end of the day."

That success has had its rewards as Cosme was accepted by Duke University to further her education and play soccer for the Blue Devils.

"Since I was a little girl I wanted to go to a top school in the country," she said. "I thought it was going to be Harvard. and then I visited it. 'Oh, I don't know if would fit in here.' Then I realized not only do I want to go to an amazing academic school but I want to go to an amazing soccer school, an athletic school. Duke was a perfect fit. I visited it when I was 14 and ever since, 'I am going. I have to go here. I don't care what I have to do, but I am going here. And fortunately, it worked out."

In fact, Cosme got an opportunity to meet a future foe when she introduced the University of North Carolina women's head coach Anson Dorrance at the Hall of Fame dinner. She said some nice things to the crowd about Dorrance, who has directed the Tar Heels to 21 NCAA Division I championships.

Hmmm. That was interesting because Cosme will do everything she can next fall to make life miserable for Dorrance's team when she plays with Duke.

"Oh yes. That's exactly what I said to him," she said. "I'm sorry Anson, but our blue is better."

Albertson director of football Paul Riley has no doubt that Cosme will be successful at Duke and anything she pursues.

"Caitlin is the top player in the Fury program and has distinguished herself both on and off the field as the player leader of our club," he said. "She is inspirational, driven, committed and has a superb attitude. She is a true leader and we are extremely proud of not just her ability on the ball but her total devotion to her team and club. She will captain Duke one day and we thoroughly expect her to continue on into the professional ranks."

Cosme's favorite players are three U.S. internationals -- Carli Lloyd, Morgan Brian and Crystal Dunn. Dunn just so happens to be a former Albertson Fury standout.

"She's fantastic," Cosme said. "It's unbelievable on how good she's gotten in the past couple of years and how she persevered through all her setbacks, not making the World Cup, [making] the Olympic team. It's inspiring to see someone never give up and working hard. It shows good things can happen."

Players such as Dunn allow Cosme to aspire to greater heights. Dunn, who led the Washington Spirit into the National Women's Soccer League final last year, has inspired players such as Cosme to strive to become the best player they can be and perhaps eventually perform in the NWSL. Albertson SC had eight players in the league in 2016, the most of any U.S. club.

"If I got the opportunity to go pro and pursue my dreams, I definitely wouldn't shut it down," she said. "It's a once in a lifetime opportunity. I don't know how you could shut it down. Right now, I'm just focusing on getting better and making a name for myself collegiately."


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