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All-North MVP Arthur worked hard, but had fun

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Brianne Arthur of Watertown calls soccer her “fun sport.”

But make no mistake, that doesn’t distract the senior forward from her usual tenacity and devotion to success on the pitch.

While lacrosse is admittedly her main sport, she approaches soccer with just as much determination for the Cyclones.

So much so, that Arthur has emerged through the years as one of the top soccer players in the region.

“I’ve been playing soccer since I was like four,” she said. “So I think you can always get better and work harder to accomplish this.”

For her efforts, Arthur has been named the Times’ All-North girls soccer Most Valuable Player in the Frontier League.

“I always want to win and I’m probably the most competitive person you’ll ever meet,” Arthur said. “I can be really hard on myself and my teammates just because I want to win. It’s nothing personal, but that’s just me.”

In leading Watertown to a share of the “A” Division regular season title, Arthur tallied 18 goals, good for a first-place tie in the Frontier League with Claire Stackel of Copenhagen, and led the league in assists with 11. She also finished second in the circuit in points with 43.

In every way, Arthur, who will attend Binghamton University to play lacrosse at the Division I level, gave everything she had.

“It’s my fun sport because I don’t take it as serious as lacrosse,” Arthur said, “but I still work hard in practice and still try to play at 110 percent, even though I know I won’t be playing it at the next level.”

“Her work ethic is wonderful,” Watertown coach Mike VanNostrand said. “There’s not one practice that she has shown up where she hasn’t given it her all. She’s had some ankle and leg injuries, but she shows up and practices as hard as any player I’ve ever coached.”

Arthur’s 18 goals this season was two shy of the Watertown school record set by Lindsay Sherman in 1997.

“One thing you always know about Bri is she always comes to play,” VanNostrand said. “Whether it’s in practice or in a game — you always know what you’re going to get out of her. I really think she was the most explosive forward in the league this year.”

Arthur played midfield as a freshman on the varsity team and after moving up to play forward as a sophomore, she hasn’t looked back.

“I knew she was going to be a forward,” VanNostrand said. “She’s been a weapon up there — she just works hard and tries to make herself a better player.”

Arthur’s speed and sense for the ball has made her an elite player in the region.

“Her movement without the ball — and I think that’s the key to any good forward — is fantastic,” VanNostrand said. “She’s always anticipating one or two plays ahead of time, and she’s always marked very tight, so her turns on the field are just fantastic, which she really works hard on in practice.”

Naturally, she attracted a lot of attention from opposing players, but she excelled under pressure.

“So if someone is really marking her close, she really takes this as a challenge,” VanNostrand said.

“I’ve been fortunate to play different positions in soccer (so) I’ve really learned from this,” Arthur said.

Arthur, who tallied eight goals and nine assists as a sophomore in her first year as a forward, finishes with 35 goals and 22 assists in her scholastic career with Watertown.

“Her shooting ability is special,” VanNostrand said. “She has that finisher’s mentality and she feels like she can finish every time, and when she doesn’t, she gets mad at herself — which is a tribute to her and her expectations of herself.

“But she’s also a very unselfish player and if someone’s open, she’s going to pass them the ball.”

Arthur is looking forward to playing lacrosse at Binghamton, but she’ll definitely miss soccer.

“I haven’t played lacrosse nearly as long, but I love the sport of soccer and it’s going to be really hard not playing it in college.”

VanNostrand, who has coached Arthur in both sports, says she has been a pleasure to coach.

“Her mind-set is the same for both sports,” VanNostrand said. “She just has that killer instinct — but she’s also very team oriented for both sports. ... She’s a special player, but she’s also a special person as well.”

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