Woodstock Senior Plays Two for the Price of One
Woodstock's Annie Arthur sprints toward the goal during the Randolph at Woodstock girls lacrosse game in Woodstock, Vt., on May 13, 2014.
(Valley News - Sarah Priestap)
Woodstock's Lauren Kaija jumps to score a goal as Randolph's Marya Merriam, left, and Caroline Adams defend during the first half of the Randolph at Woodstock girls lacrosse game in Woodstock, Vt., on May 13, 2014.
(Valley News - Sarah Priestap)
Woodstock — A frustrated Annie Arthur usually means good things for Woodstock High girls lacrosse coach Hannah Nichols.
A frustrated Arthur usually translates into a competitive and motivated Arthur, resembling the one who pumped in four goals and set up two others in a 16-5 win over Randolph on Tuesday at Yvonne Frates Field. It’s the Arthur who’s made herself a four-year regular on two Woodstock teams, one who hopes to pursue both lacrosse and soccer beginning this fall at Babson College.
Should that new world prove to be every bit the challenge she’s expecting, Arthur will do what she usually does in such situations: excel, to the benefit of her teammates and herself.
“I think it’s going to be a transition for her, but she’s a hungry kid,” Nichols said after the Wasps improved to 2-4 on the season. “What she’s going to have a hard time with is not playing every minute of every game, which is what she’s done here. But I think that’s going to make her hungrier to get better.”
From an individual standpoint, Arthur has already established herself in both sports.
The Brownsville resident has played all over the field, short of tending goal, over four soccer seasons for coach Greg LaBella at Woodstock. The responsibilities depended upon the need, and her excellence hasn’t gone beyond notice, as last fall’s inclusion on the Vermont Soccer Coaches Association all-Division II team would attest.
She can also point to solid scoring numbers in lacrosse, even if the team success hasn’t followed. Arthur piled up 54 goals for last year’s Wasps; her four-fecta on Tuesday brought her to 24 on the year and 129 for her career, one of four Woodstock girls to tally a century in lacrosse.
“I’m glad I buckled down and chose these two sports rather than trying to stretch myself,” admitted Arthur, who has dabbled in basketball and skiing as well at Woodstock. “It depends on the season. I’m a lacrosse player — and I’m an all-out lacrosse player — during the spring and I do some side soccer. But in the fall, I’m a soccer player who also does lacrosse.
“That why, when I’m going to Babson next year, I couldn’t choose one sport. That’s why I want to do two. If I am overwhelmed and it is too much, then I’ll choose the sport I truly love most … if I figure out what that is.”
Soccer has been a lifelong pursuit, dating back to kindergarten by Arthur’s account. While a three-season sport that has occasionally “burned me out,” she admitted, she’s still tried to improve her skills through a Lightning Soccer Club travel team program in the winter and spring the past four years.
Her stick skills work to her favor in lacrosse. Her natural aggression rules in soccer.
“When I don’t play soccer for a little while, that’s when I miss it,” she said. “That’s when I can’t choose between one and the other.”
Arthur hadn’t taken part in many offseason lacrosse opportunities when she committed to a camp in Connecticut prior to her junior year at Woodstock. It was there that she met Babson coach Michelle Smith, who was eventually impressed with Arthur’s speed and encouraged her to attend a higher-level camp to prepare her for college play.
“Sports camps are really difficult,” Arthur said. “They tear you down because it’s constantly playing, eating and sleeping, and there’s nothing going on other than that. But it’s so rewarding, and I was on cloud nine when (Smith) told me she was officially recruiting me, because that’s always been my dream, to play college sports.”
Smith also forwarded her find to Babson women’s soccer coach Nellie Pineault, telling her, “ ‘I have this speedy lefty who I think you’ll be interested in,’ ” Arthur said.
“The soccer coach then took an interest in me. … I’m going to do a camp with her this summer before going into tryouts. If I’m not what she wants obviously I’ll be cut, but I’m hoping I’ll be what she wants.”
Nichols’ wants for Arthur are simple: “We ask her to score as much as she possibly can,” the fourth-year coach said with a smile. “But we’ve also been asking her to work on her vision more as well … vision to see the other players and to create offensive opportunities that don’t result in her scoring the goal but result in us scoring the goal.
“All the teams know she’s the go-to girl, and she’s getting double- and triple-teamed. Now we’re really asking her to work on her passing skills so she can create offensive opportunities for us that way. That’ll help her next year, because it won’t be as easy to blow through three defenders and get to the goal.”
Arthur did that early against the Galloping Ghosts (1-9) but only found aggravation. First-half Randolph goalkeeper Kim Buckholts (11 saves) kicked out three point-blank Arthur attempts while a fourth hit the right goalpost. Arthur also drew an early foul that gave the visitors a free-position opportunity, which led the midfielder to briefly stare at the sky in frustration before resuming play.
Arthur hit the scoreboard midway through the first half, feeding a Nikki Sweeney goal for a 7-3 Woodstock lead. She scored the next two as the Wasps extended their advantage to 12-3 by the half.
She doesn’t have to do all of the scoring. Arthur has a nice partnership on attack with sophomore Lauren Kaija, who also scored four times and set up two other goals on Tuesday. When healthy, Lauren French and Kaija’s twin sister, Abby, also provide scoring options for Woodstock.
It’s a nice luxury for Nichols, who first coached Arthur in lacrosse in eighth grade on a team with just eight girls.
“We played everybody eight-on-eight, and they won every single game and they all played every single minute,” Nichols recalled. “Not the coach’s dream, certainly, but it really helped those kids get a lot of experience.”
The one thing of which she’s experienced little at Woodstock — team success — is driving Arthur through her final month of high school athletics.
Only one of her four varsity girls soccer teams completed a .500 season. None of them tasted victory at states; cruelly, one team fell in the first round on penalty kicks, another in overtime.
Similarly, the Wasps haven’t seen the fruits of their labors in terms of wins and losses on the lacrosse field. A lot of that has to do with a Marble Valley League affiliation that burdens Woodstock with a Division I-heavy schedule. But last June’s 13-7 playdown win over Chelsea — the game in which Arthur scored her 100th goal, in Woodstock’s first home tourney game in four years —gave the Wasps a taste of what could be.
“I’m grateful for everything I’ve learned, but I’ve never been on a winning-season team,” Arthur said. “That has been really difficult run, because it’s hard to work so hard and not have your results be there to show what you’ve done.”
It may be frustrating, but that’s also been Arthur’s fuel.
“She’s a fiercely competitive kid, and she does a lot of work in the offseason to make sure her skills match her competitive nature, which is not always the case with high school kids,” Nichols said. “We feel really blessed to have had her here for four years.”
Stick Checks: Clancy Farrand added a hat trick for the Wasps, who also had a goal apiece from Lily Doton, Grace Vosburgh, Liz Kamb and Hannah Millstone. Kat Tucker earned two assists, and Doton added one. … Megan Dalton stopped eight shots in the Woodstock goal. … Brooke Greenway made four second-half saves for the Ghosts, who got two goals from Olivia Myrick and one each from Sasha Aronson, Sam Tullar and Ellie Anderson. … Arthur will finish the season with a brace to protect ligament damage in her left thumb sustained in a recent Lightning soccer match.
Greg Fennell can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3226.