Three weeks after the Darton mens soccer team was ranked No. 6 in the NJCAA preseason coaches poll, the womens team receives a Top 10 national ranking.
ALBANY -- The nation's soccer coaches predict another big season for Darton College, ranking the women's soccer team No. 8 in the country in the preseason NJCAA poll that was released Wednesday.
"It's important to be ranked as high as possible," Lady Cavaliers coach Ken Veilands said, as higher rankings produce better seeding should his team earn a trip to the NJCAA Championship in Melbourne, Fla., on Nov. 17.
"It's also a good tool to motivate ourselves and a benchmark to see if we're worthy of it," he added.
Looking to prove themselves will be a tough class of 2011 recruits, including world-class performers who will add new talent to an already impressive group of capable returning sophomores.
New faces include Ole Miss-transfer Sarah Story, of Hoover, Ala., and Canadian National Team player Haisha Cantave.
Story, a 5-foot-10 goalkeeper, started 16 matches at Ole Miss as a freshman and set a program record of 109 saves. She also recorded a school record 17 saves in a 0-0, double-overtime tie against No. 18 Georgia.
Story posted four shutouts and finished the year with a 1.56 goals against average and a .801 save percentage, ranking her seventh nationally among NCAA Division I goalkeepers.
Cantave, a forward, is best known for her game-winning goal against Ghana in the 84th minute in the 2010 U-17 FIFA Women's World Cup. She has also scored international goals against Mexico, Panama, Trinidad & Tobago and Korea.
Key returners are Jamaican National Team player Sashanna Campbell, Shelby Bush of Shalimar, Fla., and Rachel Hatch, of Leesburg, who scored 10 goals in 2010.
The Lady Cavaliers will face Oxford College at home Sunday at 6 p.m. A matchup at rival South Georgia College will follow Wednesday for the program's first 2011 conference game.
ASU VOLLEYBALL TEAM ANNOUNCES 2011 SCHEDULE: The Albany State University Lady Rams recently announced their 2011 volleyball schedule, and ASU coach Robert Skinner said it's time to "bring the championship title back to Albany State and return to the NCAA playoffs.
The Lady Rams, who lost to Kentucky State University in the SIAC championship title game last season, look forward to starting their 2011 season and winning a conference crown.
"We are excited about the upcoming season, especially after our disappointing second-place finish last season," Skinner said. "We have some very competitive teams on our 2011 schedule, but we expect to play hard."
On Wednesday, the SIAC announced its preseason All-Conference teams and the predicted order of finish, as voted on by the SIAC Volleyball Coaches Association.
ASU senior outside hitter Sabrina Garcia was named to the All-SIAC First Team -- the lone Lady Ram to be named to either the First or Second Team.
Last year, Garcia had a team-high 338 kills, 97 digs and 32 blocks.
"Sabrina is a very aggressive player and very explosive," Skinner said. "She stayed in Albany for summer school, which gave her additional time to work on her game. She will be one of our leaders this year."
The Lady Rams were picked to finish on top of the East Division, but Kentucky State was predicted to win both the West Division and the SIAC Championship.
Albany State will open the 2011 season at the Valdosta State University Invitational with matches against Augusta State University on Sept. 2, and Barry University and Adelphi University on Sept. 3. The Lady Rams will travel to Tuskegee University to open SIAC play on Sept. 6, and participate in the SIAC Crossover Tournament in Frankfort, Ky. on Sept. 22-24. The Lady Rams will make their home debut on Sept. 30 against Kentucky State University.
The Lady Rams will open five home matches in October, including Valdosta State on Oct. 4, Claflin University on Oct. 16, Benedict College on Oct. 18, Alabama State University on Oct, 20, and Tuskegee University on Oct. 25. Albany State will face Clark Atlanta University on Nov. 1 and Fort Valley State University on Nov. 4 before hosting the SIAC championship tournament on Nov. 7-9 at the HPER Gymnasium Arena.
ASU CROSS COUNTRY TEAMS RELEASE SCHEDULE: The Lady Rams and Golden Rams cross country teams will kick off the 2011 seasons on the road against Troy University on Sept. 3.
The teams will return home on Sept. 10 to host the Albany State University Invitational at 10 a.m. The Golden Rams go back on the road to compete in the Wildcat Invitational at Fort Valley State University on Sept. 14. The Golden Rams will return to Albany to compete in the Cavalier Classic, hosted by Darton College on Sept. 17. From there, the teams are set to run in the Georgia College Championship at Mercer University and the Clark-Atlanta/Morehouse Cross Country Invite on Sept. 24.
The Golden Rams' road trip continues as they run in the Paine College Invitational on Sept. 28, and compete in the Florida A&M University Invite on Oct. 1. The teams will compete in the Annual Cougar Invite at Columbus State University on Oct. 8, and run in the Troy University Invite on Oct. 15. The teams will compete in the Pre-SIAC Meet, hosted by Clark Atlanta University and Morehouse College, in Jonesboro. on Oct. 26.
The Lady Rams look to defend their SIAC championship title during the SIAC Championships on Nov. 4 in Jonesboro. The NCAA Division II South Regional Championship will be held Nov. 19 at the University of Tampa, and the NCAA Division II Championships are set for Nov. 20 at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania.
GSW NAMES ASSISTANT BASEBALL COACH: Georgia Southwestern head baseball coach Bryan McLain recently named Eric McCombie an assistant coach. McCombie's primary responsibilities will be working with outfielders in addition to being the Hurricanes' base running coach and first base coach.
"I really look forward to joining Coach McLain and Coach Tracy as a member of the staff at GSW. I am very eager to start working as part of the **** baseball program," McCombie said.
Prior to joining the Hurricanes, McCombie spent the previous three seasons as an assistant coach at his alma mater of La Roche College in Pittsburgh. There he was the Redhawks' hitting and outfield coach. La Roche's 2011 season was particularly successful as McCombie helped head coach Chase Rowe lead the Redhawks to a 27-15 record, during a season which saw four players earn all-conference honors and Rowe earn AMCC Coach of the Year honors.
A two-year captain during his playing career at La Roche College (2003-2008), McCombie was a standout centerfielder. He batted .361 with three homeruns and 20 RBI as a senior, which helped the Redhawks finish third in hitting in all of Division III.
Eric McCombie is a native of Homer City, Penn. A decorated player at Homer-Center High School, McCombie was a Baseball Factory Pre-Season All-American in 2003. He graduated from La Roche College with a Bachelor of Science degree in management with a minor in marketing. He is currently pursuing a master's degree in coaching education from Ohio University.