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Duke’s Caitlin Cosme excited for opportunity with Orlando Pride

Duke’s Caitlin Cosme excited for opportunity with Orlando Pride
Duke’s Caitlin Cosme was selected with the 10th overall selection in the 2022 NWSL College Draft. (Photo: Duke Athletics)

NEW HYDE PARK, N.Y. (BVM) – Caitlin Cosme returned to Duke this past year with a handful of goals in mind for her last season. But for her, stepping back onto the field as a Blue Devil for one final ride outweighed them all.

“I could not have asked for a better team to go through this whole season with,” Cosme said. “Everyone was incredible. We were super talented and it made staying a fifth-year worthwhile. There were times that me, Lillian [Nabet], and Tess [Boade], were just like, ‘Are we a little too old for this?’ And as the season kept going on we were like, wow, this is exactly why we stayed.” 

After a heartbreaking loss in penalty kicks prevented Duke from advancing to the Final Four in the 2020 NCAA Tournament, Cosme believed the opportunity for a longer run was there if she returned for an extra season. With the extra year of eligibility, Cosme gave it a shot.

“I wasn’t ready to say bye to this program,” Cosme said of her return. “I said I would be stupid not to take an extra year being in Durham, being at Duke with everybody, and just another chance of competing for a national championship because that’s pretty much all its about.”

Cosme and Duke would deliver on their expected success in 2021 as the Blue Devils defenseman logged an almost team-high 1829 minutes, falling only behind goalkeeper Ruthie Jones. Her star-studded play would help Duke to a 13-2-1 record in the regular season as the team battled atop the ACC conference. With aspirations of a longer tournament run, Cosme would be the catalyst in the team’s opening round win, scoring the game-winning goal in the 89th minute against Old Dominion.

Following wins over Memphis and St. John’s in the second and third rounds, Duke would follow a similar path as the season before, with the team coming up a goal short of a Final Four appearance after a 2-1 loss against Santa Clara. The fifth-year defenseman would finish her career with 10 goals and over 5,800 minutes played.

For Cosme, Duke has been the perfect fit for the New Hyde Park native who has had a long-running connection to the program. When she was 13, a trip to Durham would help create some future aspirations after visiting the campus. Two years later, a signature moment would officially kick off her upcoming plans. 

Cosme would attend a soccer event where she saw former Duke coach Billy Lesesne in attendance. The self-proclaimed  outspoken New Yorker took it upon herself to make her plans known with the Blue Devils coach and did something that many her age wouldn’t have the courage to do. 

“I was at the ECNL event in Sanford, Florida, and I just played a game and after the game I saw this man with a Duke hat on and I was like you know what – I’m going to do it,” Cosme said. “And I went up to him and I said, ‘Hi, my name is Caitlin Cosme. I play for Albertson Fury and I’m going to play for you one day.’”

The moment sums up a connection that Cosme has had with the program for nearly a decade. As the season came to a close, Cosme would receive some life-changing news as she prepared for the next step in her soccer journey. The Duke star was selected with the 10th overall selection in the 2022 NWSL College Draft by the Orlando Pride.

Photo: Duke Athletics

With the process coming about quickly, Cosme was overcome with emotions after finding out she had been selected.

“The season ended and I was upset and had mixed emotions about what was going on,” Cosme said. “You end one chapter of your life and have no idea what’s going to happen next… I didn’t really have any expectations but I was like, it would be a great opportunity if I did, and if I didn’t, oh well – when I heard my name I was like, it’s actually real.”

Without much communication before the draft, Cosme is thrilled with how things turned out and is ready for the chance to play for the Pride. She went into the draft with no expectations after seeing “phenomenal” former teammates go undrafted during the process.

“When I heard Orlando, I honestly was so excited,” Cosme said. “There were just so many emotions. There were so many interviews where I didn’t even know what I said. I could not believe that this was happening.”

The Duke defenseman is looking forward to the upcoming challenge and won’t be taking much time off as she prepares for the February report date. As things come full circle, Cosme had always hoped to play at the highest level, but now that it’s happened, she’s not sure she can believe it.

“If you had told me at the beginning of my freshman year of college that there’s going to be a chance that you have to play in the NWSL, I would have laughed,” Cosme said. “I would have said there is no way and it happened. I’m really excited for this new chapter.”