Graduate forward Alyssa Francese in a game against Columbia on Aug. 29. Francese needs 10 goals this year to set the program career record. KAT PROCACCI/THE STATESMAN

Ten goals. That’s how many graduate forward Alyssa Francese — perhaps the most accomplished player in the Stony Brook women’s soccer team’s history — needs to score this year to set the program career record.

It’s a difficult, but not impossible, feat for Francese who has scored nine or more goals three times in her career.

In an interview with The Statesman, Francese said breaking the record and securing her fourth America East championship ring are her two biggest goals for her fifth and final year with the Seawolves. After all, there’s not much left for her to accomplish. 

Francese has been named to two All-America East first teams, won the conference’s Striker of the Year award and led Stony Brook to three championships in four years. But when asked what motivated her to return for a fifth season with her place in school history already secured, she seemed surprised by the question.

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“Just the opportunity to stay again,” Francese said. “I wasn’t really ready to call it quits on a career yet, and once the opportunity came about I was all for it. I jumped on it as soon as possible.” 

Francese has been the focal point of the Seawolves’ attack since her freshman year in 2017 when she led the team with 19 points and was named to the All-Rookie Team. Her 12 goals in 2019 were the most by a Stony Brook player since 2000. The team finished that year with 14 wins, its most successful season ever.

Even after four seasons and 67 starts, Francese still approaches every game with the same dedication.

“All focus day before and day of just goes to the game,” Francese said. “Nothing else really matters in my mind, what’s going on.”

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The example she sets is more important than ever this year with a roster filled with young players. The Seawolves lost six starters in the offseason and added 10 freshmen. Francese and midfielder Chelsie DePonte are the only two graduate students on the team, and they have been at Stony Brook even longer than head coach Tobias Bischof.

Francese describes her leadership style as a ‘lead by example’ approach.

“I’d say as a leader … I’m not so much vocal,” Francese said. “I come and give one hundred percent at practice every day, during games, doing extra work. Just kind of showing the underclassmen what it takes to build a successful team and program.”

Her dedication will serve her well as she works toward the career goals record. She already scored once this season in a game against Columbia, so nine more will be enough to break Erica Keller’s record of 45, set in 1998.

But as her remarkable career reaches its conclusion, Francese wants to be remembered for more than her statistics.

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“I want [my coaches and teammates] to recognize … that I was able to make an impact on and off the field here within the team, within the program and department, and recognize the work ethic that I had,” Francese said.”

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