Twenty-five years ago, the Herons hoisted Coach
Wilber onto their shoulders to celebrate the school’s first national
championship in a team sport.
A generation may separate the national championship teams of 1988 and 2013, but the connections between the two were especially evident just before the 2013 team stepped on Toyota Field to play the national championship match.
In the locker room in San Antonio, the coaching staff gathered the team to read a message from Vida Donohue Shaver ’91, a goalkeeper in the 1988 national title match. The message read in part, “There are so many parallels between the ’88 and ’13 teams, but here is what I know without reading any stats ... There is no coach that is better than Aliceann Wilber at extracting the most out of every player on a team. This Heron squad has what it takes … So this afternoon know that you are prepared, be amazed by your teammates, see your opportunities, visualize the win and celebrate your victory! We are behind you!”
“The great link between the two teams is leadership,” says Wilber. “In 1988, we had superb leadership. We lost in the finals the year before and that team said, ’we are winning next year’ and they never looked back. The team this year has also been a very forward thinking group, again with tremendous leadership, balance and perspective.”
Both rosters also featured a large and very talented group of first-years – 14 on this year’s roster and nine in 1988.
The 1988 and 2013 teams also boasted some of the stingiest defenses in Heron soccer history. The 2013 Herons allowed just six goals all year, set a school record with 21 shutouts, and capped the year with 16 straight clean sheets. In 1988, William Smith allowed just four goals all season and earned 16 shutouts on its way to the title. The Herons posted a run of 12 straight shutouts spanning from the fourth game of the year to just before the NCAA tournament. William Smith recorded 0.19 goals against average in 1988 which is tied for third in program history. The 1988 squad outscored its opposition 54-4, while this year’s Herons outscored their competitors 53-6.
“It’s incredibly thrilling and fun to get to watch this happen,” says Ann Haggerty ’92, a forward from the 1988 William Smith soccer team. “Since we have had a common experience as Herons playing for Aliceann, it’s cool to both support current players and also take a trip down memory lane in a way that brings it all together. But I imagine this is all even cooler, in a way, for all the excellent, passionate, dedicated players who didn’t happen to be on the ’88 or ’13 teams but who wanted just as badly to bring the same thing home to William Smith. It’s a way for all alumnae to collectively celebrate the relationships that have been built and the hard work and sweat they put into the program, and it’s a way to celebrate and thank Aliceann for all that she has given to us a student-athletes and women.”