The Milton Lady Eagles are currently the No. 1 team in the AJC's 6A-7A poll and have an 8-3 record. They're seeking yet another state title, which would give them 11 in the past 13 seasons dating back to 2005, when the GHSA began recognizing lacrosse champions.
The Lady Eagles are currently on spring break, but will return to action on April 12 against national powerhouse Conestoga-Pennsylvania. As they have their sites on avenging last season's championship-game loss to Walton, long-time coach Tim Godby spoke with AJC lacrosse beat writer Adam Krohn about a number of topics.
Krohn: When did you take over the Milton lacrosse program?
Godby: I was teaching at Northwestern Middle (in Milton) and (Milton) was looking for a coach who was a certified teacher. They asked me, and I decided, why not? I've been coaching lacrosse ever since (the 2005 season).
K: What was your experience with lacrosse prior to taking the coaching job?
G: I'd never seen a lacrosse game before. I didn't know anything, but I learned quickly because it's similar to basketball and I've played that my whole life. I also coached basketball. So I started watching lacrosse and I went to some clinics and applied that to the coaching (techniques) I already used. I taught the game the same way (as basketball) and I had some parents help coach who were familiar with the sport. So we just split up responsibilities for the team and focused on what we knew and went from there.
K: And Milton won the state title your first year there and have won it all but two seasons since then.
G: There was already a youth program established when I got there, so the girls were familiar with playing. We had a lot of involvement from players at Northwestern and some of the parents were able to help coach and we started winning. Our first championship is what got everyone excited. The program grew with exposure in the community and people saw it as a great game. More girls wanted to play, it grew in our youth program and we went from there. We continued to be successful and that's where we're at. We continue to be good.
K: Each season, your schedule is loaded with nationally-recognized competition. When did the program start competing at that level?
G: Around 2008. That's when we started playing some of the best teams. We wanted to learn from the experience and challenge ourselves. At first, we were losing every game. Then, we started competing. Then, we started beating some of those teams, so it's been good for the program and it's helped us reach another level. We've been nationally ranked several times. We finished in the top four in 2014, and we've had a few top 10 finishes. We probably would have had a top 10 finish last season if we hadn't have lost in the championship.
The Lady Eagles lost 9-8 to Walton in the 2016 Class AAAAAA title game, snapping their streak of six consecutive state titles.
K: What did last season's title game loss mean for the Lady Eagles moving forward?
G: I think it has helped us more in the offseason. We learned that we're beatable and that we have to work harder.
K: After spring break, what is the goal from that point until the playoffs?
G: We're going to continue to work on areas we need to improve in. We want to work on consistency offensively and play better as a unit defensively. We need to work on taking better care of the ball. If we can do those things down the stretch, we should win the championship. It's going to be a tough road the rest of the way because there's no easy games the rest of the year. We've got Conestoga, we play Cardinal Gibbons -- they were the state champions last year in North Carolina. We've got Chattahoochee and Cambridge, those are two potentially top five teams. We've got the Legacy Cup, which is one of the top events in the country. So I'm hoping this will help us peak at the right time and that we'll be consistent and cohesive.
K: Who are the players on your team who will go on to play at the next level?
G: Courtney Hutchison (senior midfielder), USC; Lexie Morton (junior attacker), Vanderbilt; Hannah Demis (senior), Furman; Sydney Catts (senior), Furman; Jen Shield (senior attacker), Radford; Sophie Baez (senior attacker), Ohio State; Kelly Hyman (senior attacker), Presbyterian; Bridget Deehan (senior goalie), Notre Dame; Allie Peebles (sophomore), UMass; Emily Gilsdorf (senior defenseman), Gardner Webb.