STONY BROOK, N.Y. – Yorktown and Stony Brook University graduate, Alyssa Francese, earned the prestigious Presidential Scholar-Athlete Award from the America East Conference.

The conference presents the award to graduating student-athletes who achieved at least a 3.75 cumulative GPA (grade-point average).

“It meant a lot to earn such a prestigious award at such a high level,” said Francese, who plays center-forward. “I pride myself on my academic achievements just as much as athletics.”

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Francese, a four-year starter for the Huskers, is Yorktown’s all-time leader in goals for a career (96) and season (37).

Francese graduated from Stony Brook a semester early in December, with a bachelor’s degree in business management and specialized in marketing.

“Balancing school and soccer has been part of my life as far as I could remember,” said Francese, the AEC 2019 Striker of the Year. “It’s been something that I have always worked at to make sure I did well in school, in order to give myself the best chance to put 100 percent of my focus on soccer once school stuff was over each day.”

Yorktown coach Rich Armstrong said that he cannot speak highly enough about Francese.

“Since I first met her, she has always put academics on the same playing field as soccer,” Armstrong said. “As passionate as she is about the game of soccer, she has always strived to excel in the classroom. As a senior, she won the Female Scholar/Athlete Award, which is one the most prestigious awards given. A true testament of her extreme hard work for four years.”

Armstrong is not surprised to see Francese get the Presidential Scholar Athlete Award.

“Alyssa has found a way to balance the important things in life while making a positive impact with everything she does,” Armstrong said. “She is a special player and person. I’m blessed to have had an opportunity to coach her at Yorktown.”

Francese will continue to play the shortened spring season and fall campaign, while pursuing an advanced certificate in coaching.

“Over the past year or so I have gotten more and more involved in coaching situations through camps,” Francese said. “I spent a lot of time over the long summer break working with younger athletes and then again in Terryville (Long Island) during the fall semester, training some youth teams. I truly love being in the role of helping teach the next generation of soccer players the skills I have acquired over my career playing. It is something I can’t walk away from and this graduate certificate will further guide me in that coaching direction.”

Armstrong said that he has always known that Francese has had an interest in coaching after playing at Stony Brook.

“She has worked with youth players, helped out anytime I was in a pinch over the summer, and so on,” Armstrong said. “You will not find another individual that has as much passion for soccer as Alyssa. To see her want to give back to the game and further her career as a coach, truly puts a smile on my face. She has already pursued some coaching classes and I can’t wait to see her grow on the sideline. I can only pray that I get an opportunity to have her on my coaching staff in the near future.”

Francese said that it was very challenging to get through such a long summer break and get back to campus in the fall knowing there still would not be a game to compete in, with COVID-19 wiping out the fall season.

“Luckily, our program followed proper precautions and we were able to have team practices most of the fall,” Francese said. “It was the best possible situation we could have, and I was happy to have that every day.”

With a shortened spring and being able to play next fall, Francese is looking to finish the year with two more AEC championships under her belt, after winning the AEC in 2017 and 2019.

Francese enters the spring with 30 career goals, which ranks fifth in Stony Brook history.

The career high for goals at Stony Brook is 45, scored by Erica Keller from 1996 to 1998.

“I’m excited to get back and get playing again and the ultimate goal is team success,” Francese said. “But I will have that career goals record in the back of my mind as a goal to reach for myself personally.”