The Darton College women’s soccer team — which are ranked No. 4 in the nation — enter today’s national tournament as the No. 3 seed, and will be looking for the program’s first national championship. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
MELBOURNE, Fla. -- The messages are coming by the dozens these days.
Former Darton women's soccer players have flooded coach Ken Veilands' Facebook wall with words of revenge.
The messages resonate with phrases like, "Please get Monroe back, they ruined our championship."
Want To Watch?
WHO: No. 3 Darton vs. No. 6 Monroe N.Y.
WHAT: NJCAA Division I National Championship tournament, first round.
WHEN: Noon today.
Monroe (N.Y.) Community College, the team that ended the Lady Cavs' perfect season in the 2005 NJCAA National Championship final, will be Darton's opponent in the opening round of this year's NJCAA national tournament, which begins today at noon in Melbourne, Fla.
"Former players have sent me messages and are cheering us on. They would like to see us give Monroe something back," said Veilands, whose 2005 Lady Cavs were 25-0 before dropping the championship game to Monroe by one goal. "Monroe is a good program. I know going in that they are going to be fit and organized. At one time they were a dynasty. They are pretty accustomed to being (at nationals)."
But so is Veilands.
This is his third time to take the Lady Cavs to the national tournament, and the other two times he went as the No. 1 seed. Darton (16-2-2) will be in the No. 3 seed this year, while the Lady Tribunes, winners of the District G tournament, are the sixth seed.
Shelby Bush said she hasn't received any messages from members of that 2005 squad, but she would love to get a win for Veilands and former Darton players.
"I know he is going for revenge, and I don't blame him," said Bush, a sophomore from Shalimar, Fla. "I know that team (in 2005) lost to them, and it would be really cool to beat them now and put them away. I know they have been talking. I'm not sure if they look down at Darton or not, but I would rather just put them away so they don't talk anymore."
The Lady Cavs, who are ranked fourth in the nation, have been putting away teams all season. Their only losses were to top-ranked Tyler and Brevard, which was ousted from the playoffs in the Southeast District championship by Darton.
But Darton has won six in a row and is 13-0-2 in its last 15 contests, making it one of the hottest squads in the eight-team national tournament. The Lady Cavs are playing so well right now that Veilands isn't just thinking about revenge on Monroe or even a third trip to the national championship.
He wants just one thing.
"We are going there to win, and we certainly have the players to do it," Veilands said. "We have the personnel, and I have heard the coaches at Tyler don't want to play us again. Athletically, we are as tough as you are going to get. If everything is clicking and we are flying on all cylinders, I don't know how we can be beat."
Sashanna Campbell, a native of Jamaica, leads the nation in scoring with 87 points (35 goals, 17 assists), while Bush is sixth in the nation with 75 points (32 goals, 11 assists). Former Canadian national player Haisha Cantave has also added 46 points (20 goals, 6 assists) and is looking forward to playing on a big stage, which is nothing new to her. She has played soccer all over the world in games as big as the FIFA Junior World Cup and is excited to try and help the Lady Cavs end their streak of two national runner-up finishes in their previous two trips.
"I think if we go out there and play our game, we can win and move onto the next step," Cantave said. "I'm ready to play Tyler again. When we first played them it was rocky and early in the season. I am ready to play Tyler, put some goals in that net and just win."
Tyler, which is 21-0 and seeded No. 1, defeated the Lady Cavs on Sept. 2, 4-1. But the Lady Cavs would need to win two games to have a shot at Tyler in the national title game. A win today would advance Darton to Friday's 2 p.m. semifinal game against the winner of today's Harford/Butler matchup.
And whether it's today's first-round game or Sunday afternoon's national championship contest, the mindset of the Lady Cavs is simple.
"Losing is not an option," Bush said. "I don't want to go there just to experience it. I want to bring a trophy home and put rings on all of our fingers."