Caitlin Cosme, Duke’s Ace Defender

Duke senior defender Caitlin Cosme is a star on the soccer pitch. But, ‘the beautiful game’ is not the #1 sport in the Cosme household. That honor belongs to tennis as both of her parents, John and Hemel, played professionally and her sister, Taylor, played in college.

“Yes, I come from a BIG tennis family. I love tennis,” Caitlin told The Beautiful Game Network. “I quit playing when I was 10 and still regret it. I wish my soccer IQ was as good as my tennis IQ. Skills wise, if you gave me a ball and a racket and I played every day for a year, I would qualify for the U.S. Open. My skills have always been seen as a natural talent of mine. I think it runs in the family.”

When asked if she likes to watch the sport and for a couple of favorite pros, she answered, “Tennis is my absolute favorite sport to watch and outside of my parents, I am always rooting for Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal.”

Whether it’s as good as her tennis IQ or not, Cosme’s soccer mind, combined with her athletic gifts, has allowed her to improve every season at Duke. Cosme was able to make a big jump in development from her sophomore year to her junior year, going from four appearances to 20 (with 18 starts). That growth has continued into her senior season. Discussing the keys to her improvement as a player at Duke, she said, “Being able to handle constructive criticism, never giving up and competing no matter what my role was. College soccer is a new animal and it’s a learning process all four years.”

“Sometimes you’re there right away and sometimes you need to do extra work to get there. I am a prime example of how perseverance and grit can make it all work out in the end.”

As a senior, she has scored three goals and was named the ACC Defender of the Week earlier this month. “Well, I am extremely honored. It’s always nice to get noticed, especially as a defender,” Cosme said. “I want to say that all of that individual accomplishment is a credit to not only the defenders, but my whole team. I have a great group of girls around me who not only push me but make me want to become a better player and leader every day.”

“I also want to give most of the credit to my other center back, Taylor Mitchell. This girl is an unsung hero and an award like this isn’t just an award for me, but for both of us. We call ourselves a dynamic duo and I wouldn’t have gotten any of these awards without her by my side.”

Caitlin said, with a laugh, that Mitchell is currently, and will always be, her favorite defender. ” She added, “I really love watching Abby Dahlkemper play on the women’s side. On the men’s side, I used to love watching (Vincent) Kompany play before he left Man City.

Mitchell and Cosme have combined to help Duke pick up clean sheets in five of their last six matches, en route to a 5-1-2 record overall. Next up for the #4th-ranked Blue Devils will be a rivalry match tonight against the top team in NCAA women’s soccer, the University of North Carolina. Then, the team will close out regular season action with two matches next week ahead of the ACC Tournament.

When it comes to life after Duke, Cosme isn’t focused on that right now. “And what’s next after college? This is something a lot of people have been asking me,” she said. “I love soccer and I want to continue to play for as long as I love it. With COVID, my plans have obviously changed and it sounds bad but I haven’t put much thought into it.”

“Right now, this team and our season is my only priority. I want to be in the moment and keep growing with them so that we can be great.”

Carson A Merk

Reporting live from Sin City, I have covered both RGVFC and Las Vegas Lights FC since their inceptions. I also write profiles to highlight players from the NCAA to USL to NWSL and everywhere in between.