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Arthur forging legacy in first year with women’s lacrosse

Brianne Arthur is the kind of athlete Binghamton needs.

Tycho McManus/Staff Photographer Freshman attack Brianne Arthur leads the Bearcats with 30 goals on the season.

Even at 9:30 a.m., she exudes a sense of energy, of purpose. It’s hard to believe she is only a freshman.

The Binghamton women’s lacrosse team has enjoyed a record-setting season up to this point, and Arthur has been its catalyst. Scoring a team-high 30 goals so far, the 5-foot-2 attack may not be the biggest on the field, but those in attendance can’t miss her.

Arthur said her life has come to revolve around lacrosse. Her mission: Get the Binghamton program back on track.

She and her team are well on their way, winning a program-best six games already. The Bearcats won five games in 2012 and 2013 combined.

“We [on the team] are all here for a reason, to play lacrosse. I wouldn’t want it any other way,” Arthur said.

Following her father, who played at SUNY Potsdam, Arthur started playing lacrosse in the fourth grade. Early on, it was her versatility and her unmatched effort that made her stand out as a player. By the time she got to high school, it was clear she was destined for greatness. During her four years at Watertown High School, Arthur amassed more than 200 goals and 300 points. She was named a U.S. Lacrosse National All-American in 2013.

“I’m not surprised [about her success] at the collegiate level,” said Tim Burr, who coached Watertown during Arthur’s junior and senior years. “She led by example. Nobody played or worked harder than she did.”

Burr had coached boys’ lacrosse for 16 years but switched over to girls’ lacrosse when Arthur was a junior. When he encountered Arthur, a strange thing happened.

“I would dare say in my first year of coaching, I learned more from her than her from me,” Burr said.

Burr added that Arthur was highly coachable and “never thought she was above being coached.”

Binghamton head coach Stephanie Allen immediately noticed Arthur’s aggressive nature on the attack when she recruited her out of high school.

“She had a great first step, which came from her fight on the field,” Allen said. “She worked hard to get her teammates open, and get herself open. She was not a player who would sit back and watch.”

Arthur’s play also drew the attention of Ohio State and Cortland, who were the finalists when she chose her college stomping grounds.

“I liked Binghamton the most because it is really close to home, it’s cheap and I really love the team,” Arthur said.

When she met the team, Arthur meshed right away. The players were helpful in making her transition to the next level as smooth as possible. Arthur was sold on becoming a Bearcat.

But by choosing Binghamton, Arthur had committed to the challenge of turning around a program that had gone 9-38 the previous three seasons.

“The record didn’t really bother me that much, but I knew it wasn’t that good,” she said. “I wanted to make a difference here.”

The freshman class Allen constructed featured several standout players, with the objective being to bring the program out of the cellar of the America East. Coming out of high school, Arthur was not quite sure how much of an impact she would make.

“I guess I knew I was good, but I didn’t know if I was going to get accustomed to the game that quickly,” she said.

But any doubts about Arthur’s ability as a true impact player were dispelled early in the season, when Binghamton was in a tight battle against Lehigh. With the game in the balance, Arthur put the team on her back.

“The game was going back and forth for most of the game, and I scored with a minute left,” she said. “It was really exciting to hold the ball [as time expired] for the win.”

That’s not an outlier. Arthur has flourished under pressure throughout the season. She says she owes her composure to her background in gymnastics.

“Competing in gymnastics, all eyes would be on me, so I’m used to the pressure,” she said. “I would tell myself to relax, and don’t worry who is watching.”

During a game against Quinnipiac, Arthur passed on her knowledge to another freshman, helping her to adjust to the spotlight.

“Late in the game, when Jocelyn [Penteck] got the draw, I was yelling to her to ‘just relax,’” Arthur said. “She told me after the game it really helped because it calmed her down, and it eventually led to our [game-winning] goal.”

Along with her quantity of goals, Arthur has been able to score the quality goals when her team has needed them. Binghamton has gone 2-0 in games decided by one goal this season, with both game-winners coming from Arthur.

“In previous years, in close games, the team did not pull out the win,” Arthur said. “I think that is one of our strengths this year, pulling out the close ones.”

Her ability to lift the team has led to Arthur’s status as a leader on and off the field. Arthur takes the approach of leading by example. She described herself as not being the most vocal leader, even calling it a weakness of hers. But she said taking accountability and owning up to her mistakes are what she believes she does best in her leadership role.

Off the field, Arthur has adjusted well to the rigors of being a college freshman. While it took time and help from her coach and teammates, Arthur has settled into an academic groove.

“I have gotten exceptional reports from her professors,” Allen said. “It is a tribute to the time she has been putting in to grow on and off the field.”

Arthur’s work extends to outside the field as well. During the summer, Arthur is involved in the Frontier League youth program, which operates out of Watertown and helps children in the third through sixth grades improve their playing skills.

“She is so willing to give back to the kids in her community,” said Burr, who helps run the clinic. “Over the summer, she enjoys working with those kids and seeing them develop.”

After college, Arthur wants to continue playing lacrosse, or coach a team. But if that does not work out, she has her eyes set on becoming a state trooper.

“All I’ve learned in sports, working hard and never giving up, would lead me to be a good cop,” she said.

But before she has to worry about making a professional career, Arthur has something else on her mind.

“I’ve already started making my legacy. I want to break some records, and lead the team,” Arthur said. “All I want is to do well for my team.”