The Milton Lady Eagles are the state's undisputed No. 1-ranked team. A quick look at their resume makes their case as the state's best very easy. They've won a state championship the last four seasons and have won eight in the last nine seasons. The other four state titles were also won consecutively. They haven't lost to a team in the state of Georgia since 2009. And they've never lost a region game under coach Tim Godby, who has coached the Lady Eagles since 2005.
"There's not really a secret to our success," Godby said. "We just have girls who are committed and work hard. We've had some success and that has bred more success. When we won (a state title for the first time) in 2005, we continued to build on that and the girls in the community wanted to be a part of it and work hard, starting in the youth program to be good enough to make our team when they get to high school."
Nearly a decade of ultimate success brings unique opportunities to those who play for the Lady Eagles. For the second season in a row, seniors will have the chance to win a state title in each of the four seasons they played for Milton. Should the Lady Eagles win it all this year, it will be five in a row.
This year's seniors are attacker Brooke Winsness, midfielders Maggie Degnan, Emma Harden, Mackenzie Lech and defenders Lauren Duffy and Lindsey Laubenstein. Godby considers all of his seniors as leaders of the program and considers them the key to remaining a cohesive unit despite losing eight starters from last year's championship team.
So far, so good this season. The Lady Eagles are off to a 9-2 start and are 6-0 in Region 2-AAAAAA. In addition to their No. 1 state ranking, they're ranked No. 25 in the nation and 3 in the South in the Nike/US Lacrosse polls. Season highlights include wins over Point Verde, the No. 2 team in Florida, Walton and Archbishop Spalding (Md.).
"We're continuing to get better," Godby said. "We've got some things to improve on like cutting down on turnovers, and we need to continue to get better defensively and offensively."
To prepare their postseason runs, the Lady Eagles have played an elite national schedule over the years. This season alone they've played teams from California, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia. When the Lady Eagles first began playing a national schedule in 2008, they struggled. But since then, they're winning games or playing their opponents close.
"It's helped us to see what it's like to play those tough teams and what we need to do to get better," Godby said. "It also contributes to our feeder program because they see us competing at a high level."
Competing at a high level also serves the Lady Eagles beyond state titles. It also helps them to land scholarships with major D1 schools. Godby has graduated players who have gone on to Vanderbilt, Northwester, Southern California and Virginia Tech among others.
But for now, Godby and his players are focused on a fifth consecutive title.
"That would be accomplishing our main goal for the season," he said. "We can do the best we can to compete on a national level, but at the end of the day, it's to win state."
Send Adam Krohn an email at AdamKrohnAJC@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter.