SAN ANTONIO -- Aliceann Wilber has been the only head coach the William Smith Herons have known.
In her 34th season at the helm, Wilber guided her team to the NCAA Division III championship on Saturday with a 2-0 win against the hometown Trinity (Texas) Tigers at Toyota Field.
The last time William Smith captured the top prize was on Nov. 13, 1988, as the Herons defeated UC San Diego 1-0 in three overtimes at home in Geneva, N.Y.The Herons previously played in the national final in 1987 and '97, in addition to the championship year. William Smith also made the semifinals four times in the past six years, three of which were played in San Antonio.
According to Wilber, there is a common thread which connects the two championship teams, and all the other squads in between.
"The great link between the two teams is leadership," Wilber said. "In 1988, we had superb leadership. We lost in the finals the year before, and that team said 'we are winning it next year,' and they never looked back. This team has been a very forward-thinking group. They have tremendous leadership and balance. In my experience, if you don't have good leadership, you become ordinary. "
Wilber is now sporting a career record of 480-125-54, which is the most wins on the all-time list for Division III women's soccer coaches. Only two coaches in NCAA women's soccer history have more victories, North Carolina's Anson Dorrance (763) and Connecticut's Len Tsantiris (511).
Wilber became the first female collegiate soccer coach to earn more than 400 wins.
This season, the Herons opened the NCAA tournament with a win against Cabrini, followed by victories against Oneonta State, TCNJ and Ithaca (which upset defending champion Messiah) to earn a berth in the San Antonio tournament. William Smith beat Capital in 1-0 in Friday's NCAA semifinals.
William Smith completed the campaign with a 23-1-0 record, with the only loss coming to TCNJ in the opening game of the schedule.