William Smith College head soccer coach Aliceann Wilber earned her 300th career victory Nov. 2 with a 1-0 overtime victory against visiting Cortland State. The win marks Wilber as the first female head coach in college soccer to earn 300 victories.
The Herons improved to 13-2-3 on the season, while Wilber moved to 300-93-28 (.745) for her career. She has amassed 19 straight winning seasons since beginning the program in 1980.
Playing a tough Cortland squad, the Herons were unable to finish any of their 17 shots in regulation, forcing the game into overtime. Just over two minutes into the first overtime period senior Maria Paoff scored the game-winner when she tapped the ball over the goal line after Arin Belden’s shot was saved by the Red Dragons goalie.
Senior goalie Leah Cornwell had two saves for the afternoon, while the Red Dragons keeper Ali Gray stayed busy, making six saves.
The only coach the William Smith soccer team has known, Wilber has established the Herons as one of the top women’s soccer programs in the nation. She is the first female head coach in college soccer to earn 300 victories, and only the fourth women’s coach of all time to do so. Only Terry Gurnett of the University of Rochester, who garnered his 300th win in 2001, precedes Wilber in the Division III women’s coaching ranks.
Now in her 23rd year as the head coach, Wilber has guided the Herons to a record 15 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and a national championship in 1988. The Herons have won five Northeast Region Championships (1993, ’95, ’97, 2000, ’01) since the NCAA instituted regional tournament play in 1993, and advanced to the Final Four in 1987, ’88, ’93, ’95, and ’97.
A competitor, Wilber has reached many milestones in her 23 years at William Smith, but those moments, although special, are not what she always remembers. “I don’t remember the first game we won, I don’t remember the 200th, but I still remember our first loss,” Wilber said.
Although she may not recall the teams she beat to win her 100th and 200th games, the record books do. Wilber garnered her 100th career victory in 1989 with a 2-0 win over Binghamton in the 12th game of the season. Just seven years later, Wilber notched her 200th victory beating Richard Stockton 2-1 in overtime in the third game of the year.
William Smith begins postseason play on Nov. 9, when they travel to Union College to play St. Lawrence in the UCAA Semifinals. The winner of the UCAA Tournament will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships.
In the News:
Sports anchor Mark Gruba of 10 NBC Channel 10 in Rochester reported on Wilber's achievement on the news Saturday night.
Also read the story “Win is No. 300; Herons coach reaches milestone” from the Nov. 3 Geneva Finger Lakes Times.