The 2008 fall sports seasons produced several exceptional performances by the Herons and the Statesmen, including three NCAA Tournament appearances and two berths in the ICSA Singlehanded National Championships, as well as several broken records.
The Heron soccer team went 16-2-5, won the Liberty League regular season and conference championships, advanced to the semifinal round of the NCAA Tournament for the sixth time in program history, and finished the year ranked fourth in the national coaches poll.
The team began its postseason run in thrilling fashion, prevailing 5-4 in a penalty kick shootout over Skidmore in the Liberty League Tournament championship match to capture its second straight conference title and ensure the Herons’ record 19th NCAA Tournament appearance.
From there, the William Smith worked its way through the NCAA Tournament, defeating Keuka 2-0, outlasting Endicott in a 4-3 PK shootout, No. 7 Johns Hopkins 3-1, and No. 9 Amherst 1-0 (in double overtime). The victory over the Lord Jeffs, which came courtesy of first-year Kate Redmond’s goal in the 102nd minute, booked the Herons a trip to Greensboro, N.C., the site of the championship round.
In the semifinals, William Smith finally met its match, falling to eventual national champion Messiah 3-0. The Heron seniors—Ali Art, Julia Bernay and Rayza Santiago— closed out their careers with a 59-11-10 mark and an .800 winning percentage. That’s the best winning percentage of a graduating class since the Class of 1997 (61-10-7, .827).
Brelynn Nasypany ’11 and Art were both named All-Americans. Nasypany, the Liberty League Player of the Year and the conference’s leading scorer, became the 17th Heron to earn first team honors (the most of any Division III women’s program), while Art was tabbed second team. Nasypany and Art were joined on the NSCAA All-Region first team by goalie Amanda Davis ’12 (10th in the nation in save percentage and goals against average). Santiago and Jessie Tarantino ’12 earned second and third team all-region honors, respectively. Additionally, Head Coach Aliceann Wilber and assistant coaches Chas Allen, Keith Perrigo, and Courtney Peters ’08 were voted the Liberty League Coaching Staff of the Year.
The Hobart and William Smith sailing team sent Rob Crane ’09 and Kelly Crane ’11 to the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association’s (ICSA) Men’s and Women’s Singlehanded Championships in November. Rob took home third place in the 18-boat field, while Kelly placed 17th. Qualifying for the ICSA championships is a great accomplishment on its own; Kelly is just the second William Smith sailor to qualify for the women’s championships, following two appearances by Angela Scheibner ’01 (1999, 2000). Rob is the fourth Hobart sailor to advance to the men’s championship and the first to qualify twice (2008, 2007). Former Statesmen Tal Ingram ’00, John Stork ’05 and Trevor Moore ’07 are the other three sailors who have qualified.
The Statesmen soccer team also had an outstanding season, posting an unbeaten regular season record and setting new program records for wins in a season (18) and longest unbeaten streak (21). After earning an at-large bid for the program’s fourth NCAA Tournament appearance, Hobart downed Cabrini 2-0 and Cortland 1-0 to advance to the round of 16 for the first time in program history. The Statesmen (18-1- 3) suffered their only loss of the season in the third round, a 2-1 defeat against Ohio Northern. Hobart was ranked as high as No. 4 in the nation before settling in at No. 12 in the final coaches poll.
The Statesmen had their share of postseason honors as well, including Dan Riso’s ’09 Liberty League Player of the Year Award. Riso and Philipp Schoeniger ’09 were named to the NSCAA All-Region first team, while Tyler Webster ’09, Matt Schwartz ’09 and Pete Van Dellon ’09 all earned second team honors.
On the gridiron, Hobart finished with a 9-2 record, tying the program record for wins in a season, while earning its eighth Liberty League Championship and fifth consecutive NCAA Tournament bid. Linebacker Justin Hager ’09 was tabbed the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year and broke the Hobart season record for tackles, accumulating 134, five more than Jesse Truley’s ’96 13-year-old mark.
The Statesmen seized control of the Liberty League race with a thrilling 20-17 win at then 17th-ranked and undefeated Rensselaer and clinched the title outright with a 10-7 victory over Rochester in the regular season finale. Hobart opened NCAA play with a 35- 15 victory over Lycoming on a snow-covered Boswell Field. The Statesmen’s stay was halted in the second round with a 42-7 loss at top-ranked Mount Union. Hobart trailed just 21-7 with five minutes to go in the third quarter, but the Purple Raiders scored three times in the final 20 minutes to break the game open.
The Statesmen cleaned up when post-season awards were announced. Hager, Ryan Aruck ’09 and Drake Woodard ’12 were selected to the D3Football.com All-East first team, while Lance Boyington ’09 was tabbed third team. All four also earned All- Liberty League praise, with Woodard honored as the league’s Rookie of the Year. In all, 13 Statesmen were dubbed all-conference. Furthermore, Head Coach Mike Cragg and his assistants earned the League’s Coaching Staff of the Year award.
The Herons posted their 24th consecutive winning season with a 9-8 overall record. Kaitlyn Hamilton ’10 and Charlotte Styer ’09 were both honored as National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) first team all-region selections. Hamilton led the team with 25 points, while Styer anchored the defense and tallied six assists on the year. Styer, who also played in the NFHCA Senior All-Star Game, ended her career with a William Smith record 16 defensive saves.
Defenseman Ryan Adler ’09, the founder of Hockey Helpers and a finalist for the 2008 Hockey Humanitarian Award, is the only Division III student-athlete to be named a finalist for the 2009 Coach John Wooden Citizenship Cup. The award is given out by Athletes for a Better World to the most outstanding role models among professional and collegiate athletes. The other four finalists include 2007 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow.
The Herons and Statesmen also enjoyed a highly successful fall in the classroom, placing 95 student- athletes on the Liberty League All-Academic teams during the first semester. The football team’s Brian Monaco ’10 and the Hobart soccer team’s Keenan Simons ’09 drew top honors by earning a spot on the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America squads. A junior biology major, Monaco is the first Hobart football player to earn first team Academic All-America honors and just the third Statesman in any sport to be so recognized, joining hockey player Matt Garman ’06 (2006 Men’s At-Large) and baseball player Shawn Fazio ’81 (1979 Baseball). A senior majoring in computer science and mathematics, Simons garnered second team praise and joined 2004 honoree Ricky Klotz ’05 as the only soccer Statesmen to be named to the elite squad.
For more than half a century, Geneva resident and Hobart alum Len DeFrancesco ’56 has been a fixture on campus. Recently retired after serving more than 20 years as the William Smith tennis assistant coach, DeFrancesco’s affable smile and familiar warmth have led legions of Herons on the tennis courts.
“He was born a teacher,” says current Heron Tennis Coach Chip Fishback. “In addition to his knowledge of the game, he just has a warmth about him that endears him to all of our players. I’ve been begging him the last couple years to stay involved as much as he can.”
As a student, DeFrancesco was a soccer standout and also played basketball and baseball, but he never considered picking up a tennis racket until his mid-20s. When raising a family and working as a social studies teacher took precedence over semipro baseball, De- Francesco kept active by learning tennis.
He ran the Geneva Recreation Department tennis program for two decades before joining the late Professor Emerita Mary Hosking P’74 as her assistant tennis coach. And he’s been with the program, on and off, ever since, also providing assistance to former coach Betsy Brown and Fishback.
In addition to serving the Herons on the court, DeFrancesco is devoted to his College and his community. He makes regular gifts to the Geneva Scholarship Associates fund and is an active volunteer for Meals on Wheels and the Community Lunch program.
And, though he’s nominally retired, DeFrancesco isn’t sure he’ll be able to stay away from the HWS Tennis Center. “Coaching has certainly become a very integral part of my life,” he admits. “I’m not sure if I’m going to survive not coaching.”