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Bloomington Normal Girls Lacrosse aims for redemption in 2024

2024 girls lacrosse season preview

When the 2024 girls Bloomington Normal Lacrosse season opens against Dunlap on April 4 the team is hoping to bounce back from last season’s 4-8 record.

Last season, BN Lacrosse was winless against opponents with three or more victories on the season. The program’s wins came against Dunlap, Edwardsville and Belleville, teams finishing 2023 with a combined record of 5-38.

In their losses, BN was outscored 119-19 as their opponents averaged a 12.5 goal advantage.

Despite the record, head coach Mr. Andy Grisinger credited the team for their grit and “perseverance.”

“There weren’t any times that they were down and just quit,” Grisinger said.

Under Grisinger, heading into his fourth full season at the helm of the program, BN Lacrosse’s girls team has gone a combined 15-22. The program’s best finish was 2022’s 7-5 finish.

Grisinger attributes the struggle and last season’s backslide to the team’s trial-by-fire schedule and an imbalanced roster.

“We only offer the one level–varsity,” Grisinger said. “You get girls that are brand new that immediately get put on the field… We really don’t have that building block between youth and high school.”

Experience, the coach said, is what the roster needs to be able to compete. In the past few seasons, that experience has come on the field against rosters of seasoned upperclassmen.

But the co-op isn’t without experience. The 27-man roster features 17 returners from last season, led by midfielder Mati Martinez and attacker Izzy Salvati.

As a junior, Salvati scored a team-leading 13 goals, converting 68% of her shot attempts.

Salvati, the coach said, is “really starting to blossom” heading into her third season with the team.

Last season, Martinez, a Colorado State University-Pueblo commit, displayed her near-decade of playing experience, netting 10 goals, good for second.

Martinez’s stat line came just two seasons removed from major hip surgery.

“They had to remove the hip from the socket, reshape the socket, put the hip back,” Grisinger said. “She had to relearn how to walk, how to run, how to play lacrosse.”

The coach said the senior’s recovery is a testament to Martinez’s “drive” and competitiveness.

“They want to win,” Grisinger said. “I’m excited to see what she’s going to do this year.”

At attack, Allie Setzler is coming off a breakout freshman season. She scored nine goals on 11 attempts, tied for third on the team.

Setzler, Grisinger said, is “a lot of fun to watch.” The 5-foot sophomore may be small, the coach said, but she is “fiery” and “explosive.”

And she has taken a leadership role this season.

As one of the team’s “better athletes,” Grisinger said, Setzler serves as a model for “the younger or less experienced girls to watch.”

The sophomore will be complimented on offense by Lillie Keeton. Keeton scored nine goals on 10 chances last season.

Senior Aleigha Harvey also looks primed to have a strong season after playing her first season of competitive lacrosse as a junior last year.

Harvey, who played in just seven games, netted two goals in five attempts and forced six turnovers.

The team’s ability to force turnovers and capture ground balls will be crucial to their success this season, as they’ll need to control possession if they want to increase offensive production.

Last season, despite missing two games, senior Karcin Roth led the team in both categories with 15 turnovers and 22 ground balls. Graduate Ella Gardner trailed Roth with 16 ground balls, averaging 1.6 a game for a team second.

The team will look to players like juniors Charlotte Bihun and Alayna Nourie and sophomore Holly Turnbull to fill those gaps.

Those younger players, Grisinger said, have “come out of their shells a little bit” and are “looking more comfortable playing in our system.”

Bihun looks to stand out on defense after last season’s eight ground balls and eight turnover performance. Nourie recorded six ground balls and forced seven turnovers last year.

Turnbull tallied 11 ground balls of her own and showed strength on the draw, controlling nine of her 16 attempts.

Brennalyn Weitekamp, a St. Ambrose University signee, will return to the net for the Purple Iron Cats.

“I’m excited for her to get in the cage,” Grisinger said. “She’s been really working on her reflexes.”

Weitekamp averaged 10 goals allowed a game last season, stopping a shade above 37% of shots attempted.

Rounding out the 2024 squad are 11 new additions, nine freshmen and two seniors.

One of those seniors, Cassie Fischmann, will play lacrosse for the Illinois Wesleyan Titans next season despite not having played a high school contest.

“I personally never saw myself playing at the collegiate level,” Fischmann said. Sports, the senior said, were something she always did for fun.

But her athleticism in her Sports and Fitness class last semester caught the eye of IWU coach Grainne Kelly, and Fischmann was offered a roster spot next season.

“I didn’t see myself having that potential to be there,” Fischmann said. “It was really a confidence boost.”

But Fischmann isn’t the only new member of BN Lacrosse with potential.

Grisinger is “pretty excited about some of the freshmen that are coming up,” the coach said, as several bring experience to the roster, playing for the Bloomington Normal Warriors, the local youth program.

Bloomington Normal Girls Lacrosse opens the season at Normal West on Thursday at 5 p.m.

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About the Contributor
Bailey Kozlen
Bailey Kozlen, Staff Writer
  Bailey Kozlen is a junior at Normal Community High School. This is her first year working with the Inkspot as a staff writer. She is involved with theatre and everything performing arts-related. In my free time, I enjoy making coffee and going on long drives. My all-time dream is to live somewhere in a big city. My best advice is to take every chance and opportunity that comes your way.  
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