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Indian River duo happier with team success

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PHILADELPHIA — As senior forwards, Katie Brierton and Paige Fayette are making the most of their final season for Indian River in girls lacrosse.

In her sixth varsity season, Brierton set career school records in goals, assists and points in a 21-4 victory over Ogdensburg last Thursday.

Yet these numbers aren’t important to Brierton and Fayette, who rank first and third, respectively, in scoring in the Frontier League. They prefer to dwell on success of their team, which is off to 5-3 start this season, including winning its first league game in six seasons.

“Those are nice,” Brierton said of her team marks. “But what’s most important to me is seeing how this team has improved.”

Brierton, who will attend the University at Albany to play at the Division I level, is the school record holder in goals (164), assists (72) and points (236).

“We wouldn’t be the team that we are without our other players, like our goalie, our defense and our midfielders, and even our coaches,” said Brierton, who leads the Frontier League in both points (48) and assists (20) and is tied for second in goals (28). “It’s about all of us, not just myself and Paige.”

With their 13-12 triumph over Carthage in “A” Division play on Tuesday, the Warriors broke through with their first victory in the Frontier League since 2007.

“It was a great win for us,” Brierton said. “We trailed by four or five, but then we got it together and in the second half we all picked it up. Many players stepped up when we really needed them to, like Abby Lynch got a lot of important ground balls. She and Hannah Miterko lead our defense and our goalie Payge Heingarten made some important saves and nice clears.”

The win is the latest step forward for Indian River, which is playing with more swagger and confidence this season.

“This is a great start for us,” said Fayette, who tops the league in goals (30) and stands third in points (39). “Especially with the years we’ve had in the past, I think our hard work is starting to pay off.”

“In the past, our scores against Carthage were pretty lopsided,” Indian River coach Fred Lavancha said. “ ... They had some fantastic players and our players were young, and at that point they were an elite program in the state. They’ve lost some talent to graduation and they aren’t quite what they once were, but for us to close the gap last year and then to beat them this year — we’re pretty proud of that.”

Both Brierton and Fayette, who has 166 career points, including 109 goals and 57 assists in five varsity seasons, have experienced a role reversal of sorts, Lavancha said, as “Katie has progressed a great deal as a feeder and primary ball carrier and Paige has worked hard to get open and has been a primary dodger.”

This certainly hasn’t diminished their offensive production, as Fayette scored seven goals in the win over Carthage and Brierton totaled seven points, including five goals.

“It’s kind of a unique scenario to look at — a point guard rarely switches roles with a shooting guard, but essentially that’s kind in a lot of ways what has happened in the course of their junior and senior years,” Lavancha said. “So it says a lot about both players’ versatility and more so their willingness to adapt their games to what the team needs in critical situations.”

CARTHAGE BOYS TO HOST EVENT

The Carthage boys lacrosse team, which is 9-0 overall and has risen to sixth in the state in Class B, will host defending Section 3 Class C champion Homer at noon Saturday, as part of the program’s Team 24 “Never Stop Fighting” game and American Cancer Society fundraiser.

Team 24 is an American Cancer Society Relay for Life team started a year ago by Comets coach Kirk Ventiquattro after he was diagnosed with stage four prostrate cancer, with the team’s dual purpose of bringing awareness to cancer and raising funds for the ACS.

Admission is an optional donation to the ACS, event T-shirts will be sold for $15, and halftime will feature a future stars exhibition with Carthage youth players.

FRONTIER LEAGUE SHOWDOWN

Watertown plays at South Jefferson at 4:30 p.m. next Wednesday in what will likely be a clash for first place in the Frontier League in girls lacrosse.

The first-place Cyclones (5-1, 4-0) are ranked 13th in the state in Class B, and led offensively by seniors Brianne Arthur (28-10-38) and Morgan Cadwell (16-4-20).

The Spartans (6-1, 3-1), ranked 19th in Class C in the state and currently occupying second place, are paced by sophomores Morgan Alexander (27-6-33) and Clarissa Perry (21-9-30).

Defensively, Watertown (46) and South Jefferson (51) rank first and second in the league in fewest goals allowed.

In the previous meeting this season, the Cyclones edged the Spartans, 11-10 on April 10.

Sportswriter Chris Fitz Gerald covers Frontier League lacrosse for the Times. He may be reached at cfitzgerald@wdt.net

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