by David T. Mann, Sports Information Director
Darton State Athletics sealed a package deal when the Chirinos-Perez twins signed with the Cavaliers. The Peruvian duo has had an immense impact on two of the best soccer programs in the NJCAA, and their dedication and character lends a great representation of what makes up a Darton State College student-athlete.
Jorge was flat-out one of the best playmakers in the league. He led conference in assists and his aggressive, in-your-face style of play doesn’t go unnoticed. As a freshman he was an integral part of the 2012 Cavaliers who went completely undefeated in the regular season, won the conference and finished 3rd at the NJCAA National Championships. It was during that year when a member of Darton’s women’s team complimented his play, and he replied “Thanks, but my sister is better.”
His twin sister, Lyana, was in another hemisphere and playing soccer at the international level when Darton head women’s soccer coach Ken Veilands heard his team speaking of what Jorge had mentioned. She was playing with Peru’s national team, and was already receiving offers from two of Darton’s big-time rival schools when she flew into Albany for a tryout. Lyana was immediately impressed by the campus and the athletic facilities of Darton, but there was a catch to her visit – she had arrived on head men’s soccer coach Bart Sasnett’s alumni weekend, and she would have to try out with the men’s teams. Not a problem, she said.
“She played exceptionally well,” Sasnett recalled. “I tell you, the impact that those two have had here… we’re getting a lot out of that family.”
Lyana became one of the most dangerous scoring threats in the NJCAA, and entered the 2013 post-season with 33 goals and 11 assists in only 18 games. She scored five more goals as Darton cruised through the Region 17 Championship tournament, and became the Region 17 Player of the Year. It didn’t end there. Last week the NJCAA awarded Lyana with All American, 1st Team honors.
“Lyana has adapted well to playing with her teammates,” Veilands said. “Her success on the field is a combination of hard work and simply loving the game. Lyana is one of the most passionate players I have ever coached. She just loves playing soccer!”
Surprisingly, she didn’t begin to play the game until she was 12 years old. By the time she was 14, she was playing for Peru’s U-17 national team. Jorge didn’t play soccer until he was nine, when his father, an engineer and former member of Peru’s military Special Forces, told him he needed to get an academic and athletic scholarship to an elite high school academy. Jorge has been all business ever since.
“Some come to Darton just to play,” Sasnett said. “Jorge came here to win championships and go on to the next level. He’s one of the few who takes advantage of opportunities he’s given.”
His work-rate is ever obvious on the soccer field. He’s a relentless central midfielder gifted with tactical awareness and strong technical ability. Teammates rally around him, and his leadership and ability to effectively communicate with them has led to the captain’s band affixed to the cuff of his jersey.
Fall 2013 marked Jorge’s last season with the Cavaliers, and after Lyana spends another season she will move on as well. They will both be missed, but it’s unknown what’s ahead. Recently, when complimented on how well she plays the game, Lyana said “Thanks. But my 14-year-old little brother is better…”