William Smith College has appeared in nine straight NCAA Division III women’s soccer tournaments, a run that began in 2007.
You would think that the Herons have faced just about everybody who is anybody in D3 circles over those years. But, except for one team, the three schools coming to Cozzens Field this weekend are relative postseason strangers to the Herons.
The D3 sectionals kick off Saturday when third-ranked William Smith hosts No. 11 Brandeis University at 11 a.m. The second game, between No. 14 Stevens Institute of Technology and No. 6 Williams College, will follow at 1:30 p.m. The winners play Sunday at 1 p.m. for a spot in the Final Four in Kansas City.
The Herons have a recent history with Williams during this latest NCAA postseason string (William Smith has competed in 26 national tournaments under head coach Aliceann Wilber).
William Smith defeated the Ephs in back-to-back sectional finals: 4-0 in 2011 and 1-0 in 2010.
The Herons rolled through the first two rounds with a 3-0 win over Penn State-Berks and a 5-1 victory over Roger Williams last weekend. Krista Longo (14 goals, 4 assists), Kara Shue (7-11) and Brie Ruane (10-5) lead a balanced attack. The Herons defense has surrendered a miserly five goals. Two of those came in a season-opening loss to Wheaton (Ill.). They’re 18-0-1 since.
Here’s who the Herons face as they chase their second national championship in three years and third overall:
Coach: Denise Dallamora (36th season)
Last weekend: def. W. Connecticut 1-0; tied Amherst 1-1 (advanced 3-2 on penalty kicks).
Leading scorers: Lea McDaniel (8-3); Holly Szafran (6-4).
Goalie: Alexis Grossman (0.36 GAA).
Notes: Brandeis is making its fifth NCAA tournament appearance, and its second straight. ... Three of the Judges’ draws have come in the last five games.
Coach: Jeff Parker (16th season)
Last weekend: def. Lesley 5-0; def. Bowdoin 4-1.
Leading scorers: Raba Nassif (19-19), Zisi Komar (20-10).
Goalie: Lindsey Mahnken (1.08 GAA).
Notes: Nassif and Komar have combined for 39 of the Ducks’ 85 goals. ... Stevens started the season 3-2, but are 15-1-1 since.
Coach: Michelyne Pinard (14th season)
Last weekend: def. Westfield St. 3-0; def. TCNJ 3-0.
Leading scorers: Kristi Kirshe (12-7); Audrey Thomas (11-4).
Goalie: Tressa Palcheck (0.37 GAA).
Notes: The Ephs advanced with a 3-0 win over The College of New Jersey, the team that knocked the Herons out of the tournament last year. ... Williams has surrendered nine goals with 14 shutouts.
Braun an All-American
Lera Braun (Waterloo) capped an outstanding career with the Alfred State women’s volleyball team by being named a USCAA All-American for the second straight year.
Braun was named to the USCAA first team after earning second-team honors as a junior. She directed the Pioneers offense as a setter and posted some impressive career numbers.
Braun finished with 3,792 assists (8.05 per set), 1,036 digs, 512 digs and 286 aces. This season she dished out 1,147 assists (8.76 per set) to go with 313 digs, 114 kills and a team-high 80 aces.
She helped lead Alfred State (28-11) to the USCAA National Championships this season and a berth in the ECAC Upstate/Metro Tournament.
Hobart quarterback Shane Sweeney (Geneva) was named Liberty League Offensive Performer of the Week after a record-setting final game of the season against Rochester.
Sweeney went 22 for 28 for 258 yards and tossed a program-record six touchdowns as the Statesmen defeated the Yellowjackets 42-20. He also finished his first season with a school record for passing yards per game (221) and total offense per game (225). Sweeney completed 62 percent of his passes for 1,547 yards and 17 touchdowns despite missing three games due to injury.
Sports Coordinator Gregory G. McNall’s “College Notebook” appears Thursdays in the Finger Lakes Times. It features graduates from Ontario, Wayne, Yates and Seneca counties who are playing in college. Call Greg at 789-3333 ext. 244, fax him at 789-4077 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.