March 18, 2011
The following feature appears in the Patriot League's 2011 Women in Sports magazine, produced in conjunction with the 25th celebration of National Girls and Women in Sports Day, which was held Feb. 2.
By Jimmy Johnson
Patriot League Multimedia Coordinator
Something good can always come from a loss. It's an old adage that coaches often spell out to their players in the worst of times.
The positives emanating from a loss may be a lesson that can help a player in the future.
Or maybe, as it was for West Point graduate Alexis Albano, it will create a great opportunity.
Growing up in New York City, Albano played for the City's girls soccer team, which competed every summer at the Empire State Games. Playing against a much more talented Hudson Valley team -- most teams fared better than the city teams -- Albano and her teammates could have given up and succumbed to the inevitable defeat.
Instead, she played her heart out.
"I think we put up a goose-egg that day," the speedy forward says nearly 20 years later from her New York office. "They beat us badly."
Though Albano did not score, her talent was apparent to the opposing coach, Gene Ventriglia, who also happened to coach the women's soccer team at West Point.
"Even though they beat us badly, the coach still noticed me," she said. "He said, `I think you'd be a great fit for the team.'"
And with that statement, her future was forever changed.
Albano, who is now a special agent with the FBI, had planned to apply to Columbia and major in Pre-Med. The U.S. Military Academy was never a thought until that fateful day at the Empire State Games.
"The more and more I thought about it, I started to see that West Point was a pretty good deal," Albano said. "The team was very welcoming and I wanted to make sure that if I'm going to play the sport I love, I'm going to enjoy who I'm playing with."
She definitely did, and she immediately made an impact, earning second-team All-Patriot League honors in her sophomore season, helping Army win its first League championship in 1993. Albano led the team in goals with 17 that season, including the overtime game-winner in the League title game.
Completing a hat trick, Albano took a cross from Marissa Souza and directed the ball to the lower-left corner from 6 yards out to defeat Colgate 5-4.
She added another 16 goals her junior year and finished with 56 goals over four years, ranking second on West Point's all-time list. She scored 33 of her 130 career points during her senior year, propelling her toward winning the Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year award.
For four years, defenses feared Albano.
"It's nice to be a forward," said Albano, who still competes in recreational leagues. "I like to run, and sometimes, it just ends up being a footrace."
That happens to be her other forte.
Albano was a track star, too. She walked onto the track team after her junior soccer season and proceeded to become a Patriot League individual champion in the 400-meter dash.
She had planned to return solely to soccer in the spring, but after an individual title, the pressure was there for her to keep going, and it's a good thing she did. She became a two-time champion winning the 400 in the 1996 outdoor season.
"It was going to be a short-lived thing," she admitted. "I was just going to do indoor track, but coach Ron Brazil convinced me to stay for outdoor."
With that, she was off, competing in two sports during all three seasons.
It was a busy life, but that is often the case for most cadets at West Point.
"Time management was the key," she said. "It was all about working with the coaches."
That lifestyle easily prepared her for life after graduation. She thought about going into the FBI her senior year, and after five years of active duty and two years of working in pharmaceutical sales, Albano began testing to become a special agent.
She's in her fifth year with the FBI now working in national security, and it was all made possible because she made the best out of a bad situation.
She continued to fight a losing battle against Hudson Valley, someone noticed and an old adage was restored.
Something good came from a loss.