PERKINSTON, Miss. —- After a 1-3 start to 2012, the Darton women’s soccer team vowed to never get off on the wrong foot again.
So far, so good.
The No. 8 nationally ranked Lady Cavs (2-0) won their second straight game to begin their 2013 campaign, routing No. 14-ranked Pearl River (Mississippi) Community College on Friday, 4-1. Darton started its season with a win Thursday — a 6-0 thumping of Mississippi Gulf Coast — and has now outscored the opposition 10-1 their first two games.
“The key was playing back-to-back,” Darton coach Ken Veilands said of kicking off the season with games Thursday and Friday, rather than taking the normal 2-to-3 day break in between that a regular-season schedule usually affords. “We started off a little rough, but we quickly corrected it. By halftime, we were up, 3-1.”
It wasn’t so much a rough start but a “mental mistake,” as Veilands described it. Shortly after the opening kick, sophomore leader Stephanie Anes didn’t put enough on a drop to goalie Hong Tran, who could only watch helplesly as the errant pass turned into a Pearl River goal.
Luckily for Anes, she redeemed herself.
“I didn’t need to say anything. She corrected it herself,” Veilands said of Anes. “Nothing got by her the rest of the game. She and the rest of the backfield really shut them down.”
It helped that Darton’s Lyana Perez, Thursday’s Game 1 hero, struck twice in the first half to turn a 1-0 hole into a 2-1 lead, and freshman Janay Campbell scored her second collegiate goal of her career shortly before halftime to put the Lady Cavs comfortably ahead. Perez added her third goal of the game — giving her five of Darton’s first 10 goals this season — in the second half to put the game away.
The Lady Cavs are still 11 days away from their home opener (Sept. 4 vs. South Georgia, 7 p.m.), but in between will be another big test: a scrimmage against Division II West Georgia on Thursday.
And Veilands, for one, can’t wait.
“They will be bigger, faster and stronger than most teams we’ll see all year, and I love a test a like that,” he said. “It’s not designed to see who wins or loses, it’s designed to put us under pressure and see how we react. There’s no better preparation for the national tournament.”
NOTES: Tran finished the game with eight saves … Veilands said he can already tell his team has a leg up on other teams’ conditioning after his girls “played hard from beginning to end and never seemed to tire. That’s a great sign (our offseason conditioning program) worked.” … Veilands claimed once the NJCAA polls came out and Darton was ranked 8th — where it ended last season — that he wasn’t sure the junior college governing body was “really doing their homework.” And so far, he appears to be on to something. Darton destroyed the host team of this weekend’s round-robin, Mississippi Gulf Coast — which obviously felt it could hang with, or beat, Darton, or it never would’ve scheduled the Lady Cavs in their opener — and then throttled No. 14 Pearl River on Friday in a game that easily could’ve ended 4-0 or 5-0 if not for an early miscue … the No. 3 nationally ranked Darton men open their season Sunday against Monroe (N.Y.) College. That game will be played at Georgia Perimeter.