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Gwinnett grads: Arthur leads nation in points per game

The stress fracture in his tibia continued to worsen with each game, and eventually Sam Arthur had no choice.

He had to shut down his freshman soccer season at South Carolina after nine games.

Instead of building on last fall's solid start - he had five goals and two assists in his debut season - he couldn't touch a soccer ball. He could bike. He could swim. He could be a cheerleader.

But soccer was out while the stress fracture, which made it nearly impossible to walk after games, healed up.

"It was the longest time I've gone without soccer since I was 5," the Greater Atlanta Christian grad said. "It was a tough four months. It was definitely hard for me as a soccer player and a competitor, not being able to play soccer and do something I love."

Arthur was motivated when he returned.

After the Gamecocks' spring games, he led the Atlanta Silverbacks' Premier Development League (PDL) team in scoring this past summer. It was a nice warm-up for the college season, which he has started with a fury.

The physical forward leads the nation in points per game (2.57) and is tied for second in goals per game (1.14) in the NCAA's Division I soccer statistics released Tuesday.

He also leads Conference USA in virtually every category, including shots (25), shots per game (3.57), goals (eight) and points (18). Four of his goals were game-winners.

He's paired with teammate Blake Brettschneider (two goals, two assists), a Parkview grad, as a potent tandem at forward. The two have worked together for years in club ball as well.

"We've been working hard in practice, working hard to create chances," Arthur said. "My teammates have been creating chances and putting me in a position to score goals. (Blake and I) have good chemistry. We're both pretty physical players and we both like to win balls and find each other with passes. We work together really well."

The two Gwinnett forwards join St. Pius grad Jimmy Maurer, a Lawrenceville resident, on the Gamecocks' roster. Maurer has four shutouts in eight games with a 0.85 goals-against average.

The trio of sophomores make up the core of a young South Carolina team, which is ranked 19th in the country and has hopes for a bright future.

"We're still a really young team," Arthur said. "We start two freshmen, five sophomores, three juniors. We definitely think we've got a chance to have a great team if we stay healthy, stay together and keep working hard."

SOCCER

Jones scores winner against Clemson

Alexa Jones' college soccer career is just beginning, but she already has a great memory.

The Collins Hill grad, a freshman, scored the game-winning goal in the 64th minute as Furman defeated Clemson for the first time in school history. The Paladins were previously 0-12 against the Tigers.

Jones took a long ball behind the Clemson defense and slipped a low shot past the Tiger goalkeeper.

Pradilla tops conference

Mill Creek grad Jorge Pradilla is the Great South Athletic Conference's most prolific scorer with 26 points for Piedmont College.

The junior forward has a conference-best 11 goals with four assists.

FOOTBALL

Stevens gets league award

Virginia Military kicker Greg Stevens, a Peachtree Ridge grad, was named the Big South Conference freshman of the week on Monday.

Stevens broke a school record by going 9-for-9 on extra points in VMI's 69-20 win over Chowan. The previous mark of eight PATs was set in 1982. He is the fifth kicker in Big South history to hit at least nine extra points in a game and is 18-for-18 overall this season.

Good game for Vandy duo

Gwinnett grads and Vanderbilt teammates Greg Billinger and T.J. Greenstone continued their strong play at defensive tackle in last weekend's win over Ole Miss.

Billinger, a Parkview grad, made five tackles and Greenstone, a Collins Hill grad, made four stops.

CROSS COUNTRY

Raines leads GCSU team

Collins Hill grad Heather Raines was the Georgia College and State University cross country team's top finisher at the Earl Jacoby Memorial Race last weekend. The junior placed 19th on the 5K course with a time of 20 minutes, 22 seconds.

Gwinnett Grads is a column that runs on Saturdays spotlighting the achievements of past Gwinnett standouts. Coaches and parents are urged to send suggestions via e-mail to will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com or via fax to 770-339-8081.