Darton’s Lyana Perez wards off a defender as she scores her third goal in Saturday’s semifinal victory. (David Mann/Darton State College)
ALBANY — The best junior college soccer rivalry in the state will write a new chapter today when nationally-ranked No. 3 Darton and No. 7 Georgia Perimeter clash in the Region XVII women’s final.
It’s a championship bout between the state’s two heavyweights who split with each other in the regular season and both finished 13-1 in the region.
Darton (20-1) advanced to the finals with a 5-1 victory against Middle Georgia on Saturday, while Georgia Perimeter beat Georgia Military College 5-1 in the second semifinal match.
“Both teams (Darton and Georgia Perimeter) feel strongly about our players, and I think we are going to play each other straight up,” Darton coach Ken Veilands said. “We aren’t going to make any big adjustments. We will just go toe-to-toe.”
The championship will be at noon on the Darton campus, while the men’s Region XVII title game will be played at 2 p.m. between Georgia Perimeter and Eastern Florida State, which knocked off Darton in the semifinals.
The Darton women were led by Lyana Perez, who knocked in three goals to up her season total to 36, which ranks third in the nation.
It was Shanese Bowen, however, who started the onslaught for the Lady Cavs. The freshman midfielder punched a goal into Middle’s net 20 minutes into play. Perez netted one shortly after to put Darton up 2-0 at the half.
Ten minutes into the second half, the Lady Cav defense lapsed and allowed Middle Georgia’s only goal. It seemed to rally the Lady Cavs, whose offense stayed near the Lady Warriors’ net until Perez scored two more and freshman Abby Ingram hammered a fifth goal though the gloves of a diving goalkeeper.
EASTERN FLORIDA STATE MEN 2, DARTON 0: After a scoreless first half, Eastern Florida State was able to put two past the Cavs to win the Region XVII semifinal.
The loss ends the season for the No. 5 Cavs, who finished at 13-3-1.
Darton goalkeeper Adam Cahill came up with some huge saves for the Cavs, but he was unable to stop a shot from Jordan Muir, who snuck in from the right side and connected with a low crossed ball to put the Titans up 1-0 within the first minute of the second half.
Darton had some decent looks at Eastern Florida’s goal but was never able to finish. The Titans managed their second goal late in the half by chipping a shot over defenders that slipping the ball just under the crossbar and into the Darton net.