Darton College Soccer heads off to NJCAA National Championships with a unique opportunity- the possibility of both the men's and women's teams returning to Albany with championship hardware.
The number one seeded Cavaliers men's team heads West to Phoenix, Arizona on Tuesday. The Cavaliers could be missing their top player, Diego Ramos, for at least a portion of the tournament.
However, Darton Head Coach Bart Sasnett has confidence in his freshman to step up to the task. In recent weeks, the younger portion of the team came through during the regional and divisional victories. No matter the rankings or injuries, the Cavs don't feel any pressure entering this tournament.
"We haven't talked much about the national tournament. We haven't talked much about the rankings. We've been loose, we do the same things we do every practice...we're ready to get out there. I can tell you that much," Sasnett said.
The Cavaliers women's team enters their national championship with an abundance of confidence. Darton has the shortest travel time of all the tournament teams to Melbourne, Florida, and has faced the top-seeded team in the tourney this season, Tyler Junior College.
The Cavs lost to TJC in the second game of the year, but played even with Tyler in the first half. Coach Ken Veilands believes his team is confident against any competition.
"We, as a team, knowâ|that we're capable of playing with anybody and 45 minutes of that game (against Tyler Junior College) was even. We've improved, and we're hitting on all cylinders right now," Veilands said.
"For the most part, we all look at it as go big or go home. We have nothing to lose; we've worked really hard to get here, so we don't want to leave with nothing less than first," sophomore Taylor Benton said.
Monroe Community College is a familiar opening round opponent for Veilands. Monroe defeated his 2005 Darton team for the national title. The men's team opens against Pima Community College on Thursday at 6:30 PM.