Darton’s Kim Treutel, left, dribbles around the South Georgia defense Wednesday during the Lady Cavs’ 2012 home and season opener. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ALBANY — Bart Sasnett believes his Cavaliers soccer team has the components to get back to the NJCAA national title game. He also knows it won’t be easy.
Darton State College, after beating two nationally ranked teams on the road to open the season, won its home opener Wednesday, 3-2, against South Georgia College to begin Region XVII play.
“We have the potential to be as good as we were last year, but we’ve got a lot of work to do,” said Sasnett, who took the Cavs to the NJCAA title game a year ago for the first time in school history.
In a steady rain in the conference opener, the Cavs flew out to a 3-0 lead before giving up two late goals on free kids to SGC in the final 13 minutes — a sign that no game will be easy as Darton tries to repeat last year’s success.
“A lot of work to put in,” said sophomore midfielder Troy Tucker, who scored the Cavs’ first goal on an assist from Alejandro Garcia with 28 minutes left in the first half. “It’s not going to be easy. Every team is coming for us.”
Tucker’s goal led to a 1-0 lead at halftime before Barrington Wright added a second-half goal on a scramble and Jowayne Laidley followed that up with a score of his own off a feed from Jahmel Swan.
Darton, ranked No. 3 in the NJCAA national rankings, has already defeated national powerhouse Tyler (Texas) this season and — even though it’s still early — looks to have the same offensive firepower as a year ago, if not more explosiveness.
“We’ve got more (scoring potential) than we did last year,” Sasnett said.
The Cavs will next travel to Georgia Perimeter on Saturday for a huge early season conference showdown.
SOUTH GEORGIA COLLEGE WOMEN 1, DARTON 0: Darton’s women suffered through a listless season-opening loss, 1-0, in the early game Wednesday.
Needless to say, 2nd-ranked Lady Cavs’ head coach Ken Veilands was none too pleased.
“I’m extremely disappointed for the program, first of all, because we’ve never lost to South Georgia,” Veilands said. “It’s very obvious to me that we weren’t prepared and that falls back on me as the coach. I’m ashamed. This one set me back.”
After a scoreless first half, SGC’s Tiffany Morris found the net in the second half just 13 minutes in for a 1-0 SGC lead and the game’s only score, slipping the ball by the outstretched arms of Darton goalie Tori Danchak.
After the Lady Cavs’ held SGC to zero shots on goal in the first half, SGC had three shots at the net in the first 13 minutes of the second half. Darton’s Chihiro Hikita missed wide right with five seconds left in the game, leaving the Lady Cavs at 0-1 to start the season.
Darton will not travel to Mississippi on Friday and Saturday for scheduled games due to Hurricane Isaac’s landfall in that area. The Lady Cavs next go to Georgia Military on Monday for a chance to rebound in Region XVII play.