Lacrosse: Record doesn't tell full story for several growing teams
It's been a season of firsts for Fox Valley lacrosse programs, for both boys and girls. And while the wins may not always be in the offing, the growth of the sport has been paramount.
Take the Geneva girls, for example. The Vikings are in their first year as a varsity program, and their top offensive threat is senior midfielder Alyssa Davidson. They are 2-9, with their signature win a 7-6 squeaker over Naperville Central, but that's not the point.
Davidson graduates in a couple of weeks and will play lacrosse at Lewis University next year. That doesn't mean she will be done with her high school experience, though.
"I'll definitely be coming back during the summer time and helping the new girls grow," said Davidson, who has been playing the sport since sixth grade and is a member of the New Wave club program. "We've come so far as a program, and the outcome has been so amazing."
Davidson's coach, Kailey Robbins, is in her third year at the helm, and was tasked this season with making the transition from a club sport to a varsity sport.
She's been able to do that with Davidson and players like ace stick-handler Grace Sowers, a sophomore, and sophomore goalie Taylor Berg. Junior Julia Rein is usually a defender but has been solid on the attack as a midfielder. Another junior, Natalie Marschitz, has been the solid bond on defense.
Seeing a trend? Davidson is the only senior. The rest are sophomores and juniors -- the program's base for the future.
New faces at Crystal Lake South: Conversely, the Crystal Lake South boys have a different way of looking at its season of firsts.
At the end of last season, the Gators had just 26 total players across the program. This season, it has 40 -- 18 of which are brand-new, some of which are familiar faces.
There's senior midfielder Billy Epperson, one of the school's top football players last fall. Why did he come out for lacrosse?
"Honestly, I was missing football and I wanted to keep myself busy, so I thought it would fun to try it out, and all my friends were doing it," he said, adding that the best part has been "probably learning a new skill and being able to apply football stuff to lacrosse as well, physicality and sport IQ."
There's also senior midfielder Jack Wruck, an all-conference soccer player last fall. Coach Jim Krol said his athleticism has made him a threat on the lacrosse field.
All those new guys have been led by a solid core of experienced players, including senior goalie Sam Storck.
"One of the biggest things is you have to pull them away from old habits from other sports," Storck said. "If they have never played lacrosse, they are going to want to apply their habits to the game."
Crystal Lake South is 0-11 and 0-3 in conference, but again, not the point. According to Storck, the best part is "just having fun with everybody, being able to help people learn and get better."
Player spotlight: South Elgin freshman Rowynn Whyte took a lacrosse camp a few years back at Conant, and decided it wasn't her thing. Fast forward to today, and she's the starting goalie for the U-46 Co-op team, which consists of players from her school, Streamwood, Bartlett and Elgin. It plays a JV schedule.
Whyte's season highlight was grabbing 10 saves in a 7-6 victory over Geneva -- in the program's first-ever game. Talk about nervous.
"That was really scary," she said, adding that her teammate from traditional rival Bartlett, Bella Sali, "talked me off the wall. We got really hyped up, and once we had the first draw, we adapted to how the team played."
Whyte has three years to go in her high school lacrosse career, and she sees the program growing substantially.
"I definitely see this program splitting into a JV and varsity team, and I think this program could potentially get that push to get girls lacrosse programs at all the schools in U-46,' she said.
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