A Q&A With the 2015 Semanik Award Winners

The soccer players honored with Drexel’s highest honor for athletics shared their on-field memories and feelings about receiving the Semanik Awards with DrexelNow.

Soccer reigned supreme this year when it came to the John and Mary Semanik Student-Athlete of the Year Awards.

Earlier this month, seniors Robert Liberatore and Melissa Chapman were honored with the awards. The honors are given to a male and female athlete each year who exhibit the academic achievement, athletic leadership, community partnerships and personal integrity espoused by Drexel’s former husband-and-wife athletic director team, the John and Mary Semanik Awards’ namesakes.

Liberatore and Chapman discussed their feelings about receiving Drexel Athletics’ highest honors and what they’ll remember from their days as Dragons.

Melissa Chapman

Melissa Chapman.

Chapman played defense for the Dragons, taking part in 19 games in their 7-9-3 campaign. She averaged nearly two shots per game and scored five goals during the season, which included a three-game goal streak in the latter half of the season. The defender also played more than 90 minutes in 17 of the team’s 19 games.

Chapman is the first women’s soccer player to earn the Mary Semanik Award since its origination in 1992.

Q: What does winning the Mary Semanik Award mean to you?

A: I am truly honored to have been selected. I heard about and have known some of the athletes that have received it before me and am very honored to be among them on the list.

Q: What do you think contributed to your individual success this season?

A: I would call it team success more than individual success. A lot of the glory always seems to go to one or two people when a team is successful. Every goal I scored this year and every goal that I have scored in my entire Drexel career has come off of a restart.

The way you see it in the stats is that I scored X amount of goals but the thing that you don’t see is what led up to it to make it happen. You don’t see the defensive stop that Alyssa Findlay made followed by a counterattack where the ball gets played out to Civanni Moss where she works the other defender to the end line to get the corner. You don’t see the relentless work of Lauren Stollar and Sam Greenfield in the midfield to draw a foul and set up the free kick. You don’t see all of the hard work and talent that the rest of the team puts forth to set me up with opportunities to score.

The same thing goes for the defensive side. One person isn’t responsible for a shutout or a solid win. It’s a team effort and my team is known for their tireless work ethic.

Q: What moment will stay with you from playing at Drexel?

A: In my four years of playing at Drexel, there are many moments that stick out to me.

Megan Hammaker’s goal with seven seconds left to beat James Madison University and secure the first playoff spot in Drexel women’s soccer history; Courtney Wylie’s goal off a free kick in 2012 to seal the deal on a 3-0 win against Hofstra; beating George Washington in 2014, which, at the time, was the top team in the region; the overtime win against William & Mary in 2014 that marked the first time Drexel women’s soccer ever beat them on their home field … I could go on for a while.

So, beside the many moments that I will remember, I will remember the hard work that my team put in to achieve these moments, and I will remember the huge team accomplishments and record-breaking seasons that came from them.

Robert Liberatore

Robert Liberatore.

A defensive force since he began his career at Drexel for the 2011 season, Liberatore played the full 90 minutes or more in every one of the Dragons’ 18 games this season.

The Ironman midfielder/defender contributed a goal in Drexel’s 2-2 tie with the College of Charleston midway through the fall season.

Liberatore is the sixth men’s soccer player to win the John Semanik Award.

Q: How do you feel about winning the John Semanik Award?

A: I was incredibly honored to receive the Semanik Award. We have a lot of great athletes at Drexel so it made receiving an award like this that much more special.

For me, this award is a reminder of the incredible memories I have with my teammates and other athletes at Drexel, as well as how fortunate my team and I have been during my four years. 

Q: What contributed to you individual success this season?

A: A large portion of my success at Drexel can be attributed to my highly competitive nature. I love to win and I hate to lose. It has always translated into everything I've done: soccer, school, etc.

More importantly, I think that the trust Doug (Hess, my coach) showed in me really allowed me to succeed. It gave me a certain degree of freedom that allowed me to consistently perform to the best of my abilities.

The same can be said about the trust that my teammates offered me each year.

Q: Is there a moment that will stay with you from playing at Drexel?

A: Beating William & Mary 1-0 to win the Colonial Athletic Association Conference Championship at home my junior year: It was an incredibly emotional victory because we knew we had to win to get a berth into the NCAA tournament. As soon as the whistle blew we ran to celebrate with each other and the fans. I ended up climbing halfway up the backdrop behind the goal to celebrate with the basketball team. It was probably the best birthday present I've ever had.

This was compiled with help from Molly Sweeney and Sam Angell of Drexel Athletics.