The William Smith College soccer team left for the NCAA Division III championship round in San Antonio this morning with four 2011 Capital One Academic All-Americans® on board. Seniors Alyse DiCenzo and Jessie Tarantino represented the Herons on the first team, while senior Sarah Tarantino garnered second team honors and senior Jamie Sawyer earned third team recognition.
William Smith has more student-athletes on this year’s team than any other school in the nation and is one of only two schools to place two players on the first team (Johns Hopkins is the other).
The quartet of four-year starters forms the nucleus of the Herons’ incredibly stingy defense. William Smith has allowed only two goals in 1,910 minutes this season and leads the nation with a 0.094 goals against average and a .905 shutout percentage (a school record 19 shutouts in 21 matches).
A biochemistry major, DiCenzo has been named to the Dean’s List five times and is a three-time Liberty League All-Academic selection. The Pittsford, N.Y., native is a three-time All-Liberty League selection and was named the 2011 Liberty League Defensive Player of the Year. DiCenzo earned her first point of the season, an assist, in William Smith’s 2-1 win over No. 17 Middlebury in the third round of the NCAA tournament. Over the past four seasons, she has played in 85 matches, recording two goals (both game winners) and an assist.
Jessie Tarantino is an economics and mathematics double major. A member of Phi Beta Kappa, she has been named to the Dean’s List five times and is a three-time Liberty League All-Academic selection. Jessie Tarantino, a three-time All-Liberty League pick, is a native of East Aurora, N.Y. Her one goal of the season proved to be the game winner against Skidmore in the Liberty League championship game. She has played in 83 career matches, producing five goals (three game winners) and two assists.
Like her twin sister, Sarah Tarantino is an economics and mathematics double major. A member of Phi Beta Kappa, she has been named to the Dean’s List five times and is a three-time Liberty League All-Academic selection. Sarah Tarantino was the Liberty League Defensive Performer of the Week twice this season and earned a spot on the Liberty League All-Tournament Team. She assisted on her sister’s game winner in the Liberty League championship and scored a goal in the Herons’ 4-0 NCAA quarterfinal win over No. 20 Williams. She has played in 79 career matches, producing four goals and an assist.
An art history major, Sawyer has earned Dean’s List honors four times and Liberty League All-Academic accolades three times. She scored the game-winning goals against Wellesley and then No. 18 Rochester and assisted on the game winner at St. Lawrence. A native of Unionville, Conn., Sawyer is a four-time All-Liberty League selection and a two-time NSCAA All-East pick. She has played in every match over the past four seasons (86), registering five goals and five assists.
William Smith is 20-0-1 and ranked second in the nation in both the NSCAA and D3soccer.com polls. The Herons will square off with top-ranked Messiah (21-0-1) at noon EST (11 a.m. CST) on Friday, Dec. 2. The two sides squared off back in September in the annual Heron Cup, playing to a scoreless draw.
The Herons are 65-9-12 (.826) over the past four seasons, winning four consecutive Liberty League regular season and tournament championships. The Class of 2012 has played in four NCAA tournaments, advancing to the national semifinals in 2008, 2010, and this season. This year’s seniors have shutout their opposition 70.9 percent of the time (61 of 86).
Prior to this season, William Smith had just three soccer Academic All-Americas: Julie Perry ’89 (third team in 1988 and second team in 1989), Kim Rausch ’98 (first team in 1998) and Laura Burnett-Kurie ’08 (third team in 2005).
To be eligible for Academic All-America consideration, a student-athlete must be a varsity starter or key reserve, maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.30 on a scale of 4.00, have reached sophomore athletic and academic standings at his/her current institution and be nominated by his/her sports information director.
Since the program’s inception in 1952, CoSIDA has bestowed Academic All-America honors on more than 14,000 student-athletes in Divisions I, II, III and NAIA, covering all NCAA championship sports.