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Darton women's soccer team closes in on ultimate redemption, national championship

Shelby Bush, left, leads the Darton College women's soccer team into the NJCAA Division I National Championships today in Melbourne, Fla., against Tyler, Texas --- one of only two teams to beat the Lady Cavs all year. (Darton College/Special to The Herald)

Shelby Bush, left, leads the Darton College women's soccer team into the NJCAA Division I National Championships today in Melbourne, Fla., against Tyler, Texas --- one of only two teams to beat the Lady Cavs all year. (Darton College/Special to The Herald)

MELBOURNE, Fla. -- The No. 1-ranked junior college women's soccer team in the nation, Tyler, Texas, has already beaten Darton College once this season.

But today in the rematch -- when the two teams face off in the finals of the NJCAA Division I National Championships -- Tyler had better be afraid.

Want To Watch?

WHO: No. 3-seed Darton women's soccer team vs. No. 1 seed Tyler, Texas.

WHAT: NJCAA Division I National Championship final.

WHEN: 2 p.m. today.

WHERE: Melbourne, Fla.

WATCH ONLINE: cavs.darton.edu.

Very afraid.

"We've heard whispers they don't want to play us again," Darton coach Ken Veilands said, despite his team's 4-1 loss to Tyler in the second game of the season.

And here's why: Darton (18-2-2) entered the postseason with just two losses and two ties -- the defeats were to Brevard (Fla.) and to Tyler, and both ties were against Georgia Perimeter.

Now here's where it gets interesting.

So far, the No. 4 nationally ranked Lady Cavs, who are the No. 3 seed in the national tournament, have atoned for every single blemish on their record.

First, they beat Georgia Perimeter in the region finals to reach the district tournament, where they then hammered Brevard to advance to nationals.

Check. Check.

But wait, it gets better.

In the first round of nationals, Darton routed Monroe (N.Y.), 4-1 -- that's the same team that ended Darton's perfect season in 2005 in the National Championship final.

It's been a journey of redemption, said Veilands, and that's why the coach thinks Tyler, Texas, had better be shaking in their boots today when they two teams meet in the finals at 2 p.m.

"We've rectified everything (to get to this point) and it just feels like we're set up for a perfect ending," he said Friday after Darton upset previously unbeaten Scottsdale (Ariz.), 2-1, in double overtime to advance to today's title game, thanks to a game-tying goal from Lee County's Kelly Polk, a game-winner from Sashanna Campbell and several huge stops from goalie Sarah Storey along the way.

"If we win this game, we will have come back and proved that in every loss, every tie, that we were the better team. That's our goal," Veilands added.

If Darton wins, it would mark the school's first national title in women's soccer since Veilands started the program in 2000.