DEXTER — Bryanna Fazio and her General Brown lacrosse teammates have collectively taken a notable step with each passing year.
After missing her entire freshman season because injury, Fazio returned strong the next year in 2013 and led the Lions to their first playoff victory in six years.
This year with her steady presence on the field as well as her leadership, General Brown competed in its first sectional semifinal in 10 years.
“That was the first time a General Brown team had made it that far in a while,” said Fazio, who plays attack. “To be a part of it was awesome.”
Only a junior, Fazio was recognized by Section 3 coaches as a US Lacrosse All-American — the first girls lacrosse player to achieve the honor in 11 years.
In recognition of her all-around play and dedication both on and off the field, Fazio has been selected as the Times All-North most valuable player in girls lacrosse.
“Bryanna is an amazing athlete in regards to setting goals for herself and understanding the concept of the work that needs to be put forth to reach those goals,” General Brown coach Katie Clough said. “She’s willing to put the work in.”
With her breakout campaign, Fazio finished as one of the top players in the region as she led all of Section 3 in points (122) and stands tied for second in assists (55).
Fazio also finished fifth in the section in goals (67) and was again one of the area’s top performers in draw controls.
“I have every player set three team goals and three individual goals at the beginning of the season,” Clough said. “She puts them up there and she reaches them. But she puts the time in, and she knows they’re not just going to be given to her, she works hard every single day.”
Fazio, who added 21 ground balls and 12 caused turnovers this season, again displayed plenty of balance, whether scoring goals or distributing assists.
“I definitely like getting more assists than goals,” Fazio said. “Because with assists, there are two or more people involved, so getting assists is more gratifying.”
She also takes pride in her ability to win draws, which she excelled at by winning 157 faceoffs for the season.
“Draws are huge,” Fazio said. “Because in those last two sectional games we won more than 50 percent of the draws ... the game really comes down to possession, so I take a lot of pride in those draws.”
As one of the team’s co-captains, Fazio led General Brown to an 11-win season and a third-place finish in the Frontier League.
After the seventh-seeded Lions defeated Cortland, 15-11 in the opening round of the playoffs in Class C, they went on to record a 15-13 second-round victory at second-seeded Marcellus, which had reached a Section 3 final the year before.
“The last couple sectional games, they were so huge for us,” said Fazio, who tallied three goals and three assists against Marcellus. “We showed our true potential in Section 3, so definitely that energy we had in those games we need to carry over to next season.”
General Brown came within a win of reaching the program’s first sectional final, but was edged by South Jefferson, 12-11, with their league rival scoring the deciding goal in the last minute of regulation.
The Lions’ previous semifinal appearance was back in 2004, when they competed in the Class B tournament and were beaten by Skaneateles in the final four.
“That was probably the best game we’ve ever played,” Fazio said of the loss to South Jefferson. “We were all working together — and hopefully next year, we’ll get them.”
Fazio was also selected as one of several players represent Upstate New York in the Under Armour Underclass Lacrosse Tournament at Towson University in Maryland in July, where she’ll join fellow Frontier League opponent Olivia Miles of Watertown.
Also from the league, junior attack Morgan Alexander of South Jefferson was selected as an All-American.
Fazio is the first player to garner All-American recognition from General Brown since Whitney Vecchio and Ashley Pike (honorable mention), both in 2003.
“This is only my second year as a head coach,” Clough said. “But I know that a player like Brianna is few and far between; we’re not going to have many players like her.”
A National Honor Society student, who excels in math and science in particular, Fazio has committed to attend Le Moyne College.
Frontier League teams as a whole had an impressive season by placing four teams in Section 3’s semifinal round, including Carthage, South Jefferson and Watertown, with the latter two advancing to their respective sectional finals.
“It shows that we north country teams can pull off the big victories,” Fazio said. “It was a tough way to end our season, but I think it will give us more fuel for next year.”