Darton State College’s Megan Thomas shoots past Andrew College goalkeeper Danielle Morgan during the second half of Wednesday’s game, which the Lady Cavs won, 12-0, to improve to 2-2.
Darton XC teams in Top 15 of NJCAA poll
ALBANY — The Darton State College women’s and men’s cross country teams placed 14th and 12th, respectively, in the first NJCAA Division I cross country polls of the season.
Darton head cross country coach Bruce Skiles said Weneday that he is pleased with his teams’ current positions.
“I think we’re ahead of the game,” he said. “I’ve got to get a couple of my freshmen going, but I think we can reach our goal of Top 10 by the end of the season.”
The women’s program welcomed a very talented freshman class, including Skiles’ daughter, Alexis Skiles of Leesburg, Monroe graduate Destinee Collins, Elena Olsund, Daisha Ballard, Jaichelle Thomas and Kaitlyn Winter.
Returning sophomores are Lee County grad Vanessa Pina, Taylor Hall, Hayden Clapper and Jeronda Stringfield.
New runners on the men’s side include Americus native Brantley Easom, Jared Richmond, Ean Crawford and Jordan Richey.
Sophomores returning are Lee County grad Cory Morris, Luis Navarro, Hank Campbell, Cody Mallchok and Nick Mascardo.
Darton was the only team in Region XVII to place in either poll.
The teams will travel to Clarksville Friday for the North Georgia Tech Invitational.
ALBANY — It took a while for the Darton College women’s soccer team to get a feel for the different vernacular of its teammates on the field.
“It’s crazy,” freshman Lady Cavs midfielder Megan Thomas said. “Some are yelling at you in Jamaican and you’re like, ‘OK.’ ”
After starting the season 0-2, Darton is starting to figure out the communication part, and the goal scoring has followed.
The Lady Cavs rolled to a 12-0 win Wednesday against Region XVII foe Andrew College, scoring six goals in each half while playing on the practice field because the game field was saturated with water. Thomas, who scored three goals with two assists in the win, didn’t know the final tally exactly because there was no running scoreboard or clock.
She was sure, though, that the young Darton team was getting better.
“We had no idea how each other plays (at the start of the season) and I think now we’re clicking,” Thomas said. “We’re getting to know each other.”
Darton lost six All-Region players and three All-Americans off last year’s national runner-up. They started the year as No. 2 in the nation but quickly fell after a season-opening loss to South Georgia College, the first loss to the Douglas school in Ken Veilands’ 13 years as head coach of the Lady Cavs.
“We’re finding ways to score, and that’s just some confidence that we needed,” Veilands said after the Lady Cavs won their second in a row in conference play to move to 2-2 overall and 2-1 in the region. “You need games like that.”
Thomas and Chihiro Hikita each scored three goals against Andrew and added two assists apiece. Shenika Williams, the Jamaica native, scored twice. Shevah Rezaee, Savannah Cantrell, Stephanie Anes and Emily Atkinson added goals.
Darton has scored 18 goals in its last two games after falling to No. 16 in the NJCAA rankings.
“After we lost to SGC, we could only get better,” Thomas said. “We’re definitely finding our stride.”
Now comes another test, facing Region XVII power Georgia Perimeter at home Friday at 6 p.m. Georgia Perimeter is unbeaten and has yet to allow a goal this season.
“They haven’t played a tough team yet,” Veilands said. “We’re hoping we can give them a battle. I think we’re battle-tested. The confidence is starting to come, the repetitions are starting to come and the girls and playing better.”
DARTON MEN 5, ANDREW 0: The Cavs debuted as the new No. 1 team in the NJCAA rankings with a shutout of visiting Andrew College.
“That is a big, big one for us,” Darton head coach Bart Sasnett said of the top ranking. “We’re really happy. We’ve been ranked No. 1 before, but never this early.”
Darton (6-0, 4-0 Region XVII), which was ranked No. 1 in the country for a few weeks last season, flew out to a 4-0 lead and finished off an overmatched opponent after struggling to stick the dagger in teams early in the season.
“We finally found a way to finish,” Sasnett said.
Jowayne Laidley scored two early goals with assists from Troy Tucker and Seve Llama. Alejandro Garcia added two goals in the first half, both off feeds from Andrew Palumbo. Palumbo scored the lone goal in the second half from an assist by Garcia.
Darton travels to Thomas University to face its junior varsity Tuesday at 4 p.m.