ALBANY –The NJCAA awarded the Darton State College Cavaliers with the National Championship Sportsmanship Award and announced sophomores Troy Tucker and Andrew Palumbo as members of the All-Tournament Team, Saturday, at the close of the NJCAA D-1 Men’s National Soccer Championship tournament.
“It’s a big honor,” Darton head coach and Southeast District Coach of the Year, Bart Sasnett, said. “Our guys conducted themselves like professionals on and off the field.”
It couldn’t have been easy. Spectators watched as Palumbo, for example, was spit on, fouled, taunted, and had his jersey constantly tugged.
“He found a way to persevere and he never got a yellow card,” Sasnett said.
Palumbo, who is also a member of the All-Region 17, 1st Team, scored two goals and gave one assist to push Darton to its 3rd-place tournament finish.
And Tucker, who is the current Region 17 Player of The Year and a returning All-American, this season led Darton in assists (11) and goals (7).
“Troy is a model of what we expect at Darton State,” Sasnett said. “He has superb character, and he is a leader. They guys look up to him and follow him. He had a hand in a lot of big decisions that went on in this program.
“It’s called being a player-coach – when you have guys like him, you can do that.
Sasnett said that Darton head women’s soccer coach Ken Veilands led to Bart to Tucker through a Bermuda contact.
It was an incredible season for the Cavs, who went undefeated before finally falling to eventual national champion Tyler in a semi-final. The Cavaliers set a season record of 19 straight wins, leading to another Southeast District Coach of the Year award for Sasnett, along with Region 17 Coach of the Year honors.