Special to the Journal
The Darton Cavaliers men’s soccer team will begin the 2011 soccer season with targets on their backs, says head coach Bart Sasnett.
His comment followed a preseason poll where the National Junior College Athletics Association coaches decided Sasnett’s new squad is the 6th best in the nation.
“It’s exciting for the program and the school,” he said of the ranking, which is the highest preseason mark in the program’s history. “But from a game aspect, it’s just putting an ‘X’ on your back early.
“So everybody is gunning for you early.”
Under the gun will certainly be several young players, as eight of Sasnett’s starters moved on from the program following a sixth-place finish at the 2010 NJCAA nationals in Tyler, Texas.
Those eight included first-team All Americans Mynor Perez of Los Angeles and Matias Aristegui of Miami, Fla. Perez, a forward, found the net 30 times last season to become the nation’s second-leading goal-scorer. Aristegui played a critical role for the team as sweeper.
Sasnett’s three returning starters are all midfielders: Javier Anor, of Caracas, Venezuela, Guilherme Frota, of Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Diego Ramos, of Deerfield Beach, Fla.
This is a rebuilding year however, as Sasnett notes that no one has yet secured a starting spot on his roster.
Darton opens against ninth-ranked San Jacinto Community College on Aug. 26 in Pensacola. It doesn’t let up from there as the team will travel to Douglas the following day to face hard-fighting Region XVII rival South Georgia College.
And Sasnett knows that despite the coaches’ poll, there is a long season ahead.
“It’s a nice gesture,” he said. “But it’s where you wind up at the end of the season (that counts).”