Darton College soccer forward Jowayne Laidley, center, celebrates with teammates after scoring the second of his two goals Saturday afternoon in Albany to beat Region XVII rival Georgia Perimeter, 4-0, in the Cavs’ first game as the No. 1-ranked team in NJCAA Division I. (email@example.com)
ALBANY -- Darton College sophomore Diego Ramos rolled down his socks after Saturday afternoon's Region XVII soccer game between the NJCAA's top-ranked Cavs and No. 11 Georgia Perimeter, revealing battle scars from the fierce -- and at times violent -- rivalry.
Teammate Jowayne Laidley stood beside Ramos, stretching out his scratched, bloodied right arm.
Just superficial wounds to an otherwise unbreakable Darton soccer team, which did its damage Saturday on the scoreboard.
Laidley and Guilherme Frota had two goals each and Ramos had two assists as Darton rolled to a 4-0 victory, improving to 10-1 overall and 7-0 in region play.
"It was a very intense environment, and it's one of those environments where if you don't come ready to play, you are going to get hurt," Darton coach Bart Sasnett said.
The teams combined for seven yellow cards and several more verbal warnings from the officials about rough play. It was the first yellow card of the game with 7:19 left in the first half that gave the Cavs their first goal of the game.
Ramos, who hails from Deerfield Beach, Fla., was tripped up about 30 yards from the goal and received a free kick that he placed perfectly on the back post. The ball ended up in the back of the net for the opening goal, but it still wasn't clear after the game if Ramos had scored or if Frota had punched it in on a deflection.
But here is all you need to know about Ramos, who is the ultimate team player and the indisputable leader of the Cavs.
"Ya know what? Give it to Guilherme; I will take the assist for it," Ramos said.
Ramos ranked sixth in the nation in scoring entering the game and he also assisted Laidley in the second half. He's simply the type of leader who never stops leading.
"Deigo is the engine of the team right now," said Laidley, a freshman from Orlando. "I never doubt Diego and his skills. "
Darton went into halftime with that 1-0 lead, and Sasnett said he talked to his players about jumping on the Jaguars early in the second half.
Laidley must have been listening.
He scored two goals in the first four minutes of the half, stunning Georgia Perimeter (9-3-1, 4-3-1) and Jaguar goalkeeper Michael Polacek.
"(Laidley) stuck 'em," Sasnett said. "He's a stunner. He stunned them, man. It's unbelievable."
Laidley's first goal was 43 seconds into the half and from 30 yards out. The ball sailed to the left of the goalkeeper, simply because, "The velocity of the ball was too hard for him," Laidley said.
Ramos assisted Laidley less than three minutes later for his 16th assist of the season and Laidley's seventh goal of the season.
Frota scored the final goal of the game on a penalty kick with 16:23 remaining for his fifth goal of the season.
Sasnett said it was the biggest win of the year for the Cavs, while Georgia Perimeter coach Marc Zagara played down the importance of the region matchup. Zagara also said he has "attitude adjustments" to deal with on his team, which tallied three yellow cards for talking back to the officials.
"We have a rivalry with everybody. No, this one's (not special). Not for us," Zagara said. "This didn't mean a whole lot. It's the beginning of October. It's the end of October that matters. They outplayed us. They scored, they won. It was good for them."
Ramos -- and the fierce play from both teams -- seemed to disagree.
"There are other good teams in the region, but there is something about them and something about us that we don't like each other," Ramos said. "We go out there and play and leave it all on the field. You are going to see cards. You are going to see tackles. You are going to see every kind of nasty thing."
LADY CAVS, LADY JAQUARS TIE, 1-1: The Darton and Georgia Perimeter women's soccer teams entered Friday's matchup with perfect region records.
In fact, neither team had even allowed a goal in Region XVII play this season.
However, the teams remained deadlocked atop the region with 6-0-1 records after a 1-1 tie on Saturday.
No. 13 Darton (7-2-1) scored the first goal of the game in the opening half on a Haisha Cantave direct corner kick, and the second-ranked Lady Jaguars evened up the score with 36:22 remaining in the game.
The teams have tied in three of their past four games and will play again Oct. 14 at Darton.