The William Smith College soccer team recently landed at the top of the College Athletic Advisor “Programs That Inspire” list for 2020.
College Athletic Advisor compiles holistic program rankings that are open to all four-year collegiate women’s soccer programs outside of Division I. The list was created out of a grouping of over 1,200 collegiate programs.
According to College Athletic Advisor, programs are ranked based on an assessment of the student-athlete experience in four areas:
- Holistic development of student-athletes at the institution
- Academic achievement & support for the academic success of student-athletes
- Overall college experience for participants within the program
- Affordability, graduation rate and student satisfaction
In 40 seasons as a varsity program, William Smith has cemented itself as one of the premiere programs in Division III. The Herons have compiled an overall record of 593-137-59 for a .789 winning percentage. William Smith has been selected to the NCAA Championship field a Division III record 30 times, posting a tournament record of 61-22-10. The Herons have won two national championships (1988 and 2013), advanced to the championship game five times (1987, 1988, 1997, 2013 and 2019) and the championship round 11 times. William Smith has won 17 Liberty League championships, including 13 in a row.
Head Coach Aliceann Wilber is the only coach the Herons have known. She has more career wins than any coach in Division III women’s soccer history and only North Carolina’s Anson Dorrance has more wins at any level of NCAA women’s soccer. Wilber is a five-time national coach of the year (1987, 1988, 1991, 2008 and 2013). Her staff has been named the United Soccer Coaches East Region Staff of the Year nine times and the Liberty League Staff of the Year 14 times.
An exceptional mentor, Wilber has coached more first-team All-Americans (25) than any other Division III women’s coach. In fact, William Smith is one of only 11 Division III schools to have two players named first-team All-Americans in the same season.
Wilber’s charges have excelled in the classroom as well. Thirteen players have secured 18 Academic All-America awards. Fifteen Herons have earned United Soccer Coaches Scholar All-America honors and Maialen Martinez was named the 2019 United Soccer Coaches Scholar Player of the Year.
In addition to exceptional training on the pitch and in the class room, Heron soccer players benefit from the Heron Peak Performance Plan, a comprehensive educational initiative to enhance the lives of student-athletes and coaches. The personal empowerment, leadership and life skills series includes a holistic athlete training series that focuses on topics like nutrition, sleep, meditation and mindfulness.
College Athletic Advisor’s rankings highlight programs that may not receive the national attention of a Power 5 school, but have achieved consistent elite status in competition and in elevating the lives of participating student-athletes.
“It’s critical, particularly in this moment, to recognize individual programs and coaches, as well as athletic departments that provide exceptional experiences to student-athletes,” College Athletic Advisor’s CEO Dave Morris said. “These athletic programs strengthen their institutions as a whole. Participating student-athletes develop into successful alumnae with powerful ties to the college and the capacity to pay their experience forward. It’s exciting to be able to recognize this particularly elite collection of programs and also remind folks that many programs in NCAA Divisions 2 and 3, the NAIA, and the USCAA are serving student-athletes and their institutions in life changing ways.”