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Versatility lands Indian River’s Brierton DI deal

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PHILADELPHIA — Katie Brierton is living proof that you can achieve something special without specializing.

On Wednesday, the Indian River senior signed her letter of intent to play Division I women’s lacrosse at the University at Albany in spring 2013 in front of family, friends and teammates at Indian River High School.

Then, she had to rush off to basketball practice.

Brierton targeted lacrosse as her top sport before high school, but unlike many of her peers, she stayed committed to being a three-sport athlete.

“I think that helped build me as a player, as a whole,” said Brierton, who is the first Indian River lacrosse player — boys or girls — to sign a Division I letter of intent.

She will finish her high school career with 11 varsity letters — six seasons on varsity lacrosse, and three each for basketball and soccer.

“What (Albany) saw in Katie was the ability to be multi-dimensional,” said Indian River girls lacrosse coach Fred LaVancha.

“Not so much target her as an attack player or a midfielder. But the fact that with her athletic ability, she may be a box-to-box kid, she may be a finisher, she may be a girl that carries the ball and feeds. But with her versatility, it made her a prize catch for any school that was recruiting her.”

Brierton was named to the Times All-North first team as an attacker last season, when she led the Frontier League in points with 55 goals and 24 assists. Her career totals of 136-52 rank third on the school’s all-time list.

She also led the girls basketball team in scoring last year, earning Times All-North honorable mention and Frontier League all-star honors.

Brierton devotes what little offseason time she has to the Different Roads Patriots, a girls lacrosse travel team that has helped many area players gain exposure at various tournaments and college showcases.

She also commits some of that time to her “second sport,” basketball. LaVancha pointed out that she played in more than 50 organized games last spring and summer.

“This year I thought about (giving up a sport), just to focus mostly on lacrosse, but I decided I couldn’t sit out a season,” Brierton said.

Brierton will join three former Frontier League players on the Great Danes next season. They are Maureen Keggins from Watertown High School, Nichole Eamer from General Brown, and her former Indian River teammate, Chelsea Boshart.

“I discussed things with (Boshart) about the college and she really liked it,” Brierton said. “That was definitely a deciding factor in the whole thing.”

Brierton said another factor in the decision was the school’s human biology program. Brierton, who ranks in the top five percent of her class with a 92.68 grade-point average, plans to study physical therapy.

Albany has qualified for the last two NCAA tournaments by virtue of winning the America East Conference Championship each season. It finished 12-5 last year after an 18-1 season in 2011.

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