ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The Darton state women's soccer team has finished top 10 in the nation every season since 2007. After finishing 16-3, that won't change. But for the Lady Cavaliers program, change is definite.
16 seasons, 8 region championships and head coach Ken Veilands might be on the Darton soccer field for the last time.
There are no certainties with Darton athletics following the announced consolidation of Albany State University and Darton state College.
Veilands is sentimental about the soccer program he started in 2000.
"I'm approaching it to something very similar to (if) I've got a 17 year old daughter going off to college and I had great years watching her grow up," said Veilands. "But she's not going to be young forever."
The Lady Cavs were as youthful as ever this year. with 15 freshmen and 3 sophomores. An exhausted Darton team fell to Butler 3-0 in the second round of the NJCAA.
"First half we kept it close," recalled Veilands. "But second half that's where the legs started getting tired. We were dealing with some nagging injuries."
Haley Kincheloe is a freshman midfielder. Growing up in Albany and attending Deerfield Windsor for high school, she frequented Darton games well before dawning the jersey.
"I knew the coach personally," said Kincheloe. "I knew that he was a good coach and I wanted to play for him."
The guidance from Veilands and the leadership of her sisters has made for a very enjoyable freshman campaign.
"Before every game the sophomores would bring a quote or something to help motivate us through the game and push me through the season," said Kincheloe.
There's no telling if Darton Soccer will take the field next year, but the 15 freshmen will miss their sophomore leaders.
"To think that their time here is over," said the freshman. "We were just torn apart."
"You kind of have some great memories, and you know your life has to move on," said Veilands. "And remember all of the good things that happened, and I think human nature will do that."