BERKELEY - The California women's lacrosse team returns to Berkeley this week for a brief two-game homestand. The Golden Bears are 1-2 thus far and host Sienna on Wednesday, March 12, at noon at Kabam Field at Memorial Stadium. CalBears.com had a chance to sit down with sophomore attacker Lizz Lavie and discuss her increased role on the team this season.
CalBears.com: How have you been adjusting with taking over Melissa Humphrey’s role this season?
Lizz Lavie: It’s not easy to try to fill the shoes of someone like Mel who was a leader in so many ways for the entire team, particularly when it came to spirit. That being said, I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor coming in as a freshman. I learned a lot from Mel including how to be a leader on the attack, which has made my role this year come more naturally. I’ve been trying to step up this season by being more vocal and helping out the new attackers as much as possible. Last season, Mel and I were the only feeders (also known as the “crease kids”), so it’s nice to have a couple of new players with me behind the net this year. Nicole and Jena are both helping to make up for the loss of Mel back there, so I certainly can’t take all of the credit. So far, it’s been an awesome challenge to step into that role, although you probably won’t see me jumping around and celebrating quite as much as Mel did.
CB: Is it intimidating to have such a big role on the team as a sophomore?
LL: It’s definitely a challenge to be a leader on the attack as a sophomore, but it’s also a great opportunity. I think most people would describe me as a relatively quiet and laid-back person, so I’ve really been challenging myself to be more outspoken this year. I’m lucky to have teammates that have a lot of respect for me and are willing to look to me as a leader even though I am only a sophomore. It’s inspiring for me to see how hard every single member of our team works every day at practice whether we’re scrimmaging, conditioning or in the weight room. To be considered a leader among a group of such talented and remarkable players is more of an honor than anything. I wouldn’t say that it’s intimidating to have a big role this year, but more of a welcomed challenge that, so far, has been an opportunity for me to grow both personally and as a player.
CB: What are you looking for on the field when you’re trying to dish out those assists?
LL: I think the most challenging part of being a feeder is that you have to be able to see the entire field at all times. The attack can move very quickly, and it’s important for us as feeders to keep our heads up in order to see all of the options and get a successful feed in. For me, I really just look for cutters that have enough distance from their defender so that they are able to make a clean catch and still have enough space to shoot. I try to put the ball into space so that the attackers can continue their momentum when they’re running and get a quick, strong shot off.
CB: What are your personal goals for this season?
LL: Personally, I’ve been working a lot on being more of a threat from behind the goal in terms of scoring. Most of our opponents probably know from last year that I’m a feeder, so if I can also be a big scoring threat it will be much harder for them to put pressure on me behind the net. Most importantly, however, I want to continue to step up as a leader and help everyone play their best “California lacrosse.” We all know how much potential we have on the field because we see it everyday in practice. Now, we just need to show everyone else what we are capable of on game days. I want to do everything possible to win an MPSF championship this year for the seniors, who have been an irreplaceable part of our improvement since the fall and continue to share their knowledge and experience with all of us.
CB: Have much have you seen your game personally improve since you were a freshman?
LL: The difference from freshman to sophomore year is really crazy for me to think about. I came in as a freshman not really knowing what to expect, but certainly not expecting to start or be in this position as a sophomore. I was much more cautious as a freshman and not as willing to take risks. This year, I am a lot more comfortable behind the goal, which allows me to take more chances and learn what works and what doesn’t. I also know my teammates’ tendencies and styles of play much better this season. Knowing who is better at shooting when they get a high feed or who is good at catching with a defender right on their back makes a huge difference on the field. Allison has also really helped me improve as a player because she has so much experience as a feeder and can tell me what I need to do better and help me break out of some of my high school habits. I’m able to get a lot more feeds in this year because she has taught me to be more dynamic behind the goal and put myself in a position to make a good pass.
CB: Do you know yet what you want to do after you graduate?
LL: I really have no idea what I want to do when I graduate, but I continue to learn new things about myself every day at Cal. For now, I’m just trying to experience as much as possible to find out what interests me and what exactly I want to pursue when I graduate. Luckily, I have a little more time to figure it out—though the thought of graduating is definitely daunting!
CB: Was it a tough adjustment moving to California from Washington D.C.?
LL: Whenever I say that I am from the East Coast, most people out here look at me like I’m crazy. I had only been to California twice in my life before move-in day freshman year, so it was certainly scary moving 3,000 miles away from the only home I had ever known and my family. However, the adjustment was a million times easier than I ever expected. The second that I got to Berkeley, I had 30 best friends who automatically had my back. Yes, people walk slower and say funny words like “hella,” but it was not difficult for me to get used to the laid-back California culture. I had to learn that it’s not cool to say “Cali” or “San Fran” and that I can cross the street whenever I want because cars will actually stop here. Luckily, I had teammates to guide me through these things. Having so many teammates who are from the East Coast and know exactly how intimidating the West Coast can be makes the adjustment a lot easier. Plus, I can’t say that I miss the snow and below-freezing temperatures back home.
CB: What are you studying right now? What’s been the most challenging aspect about Cal academically?
LL: I actually just got accepted into the Haas School of Business for next year. So, if everything goes well this semester (fingers crossed), I will be studying business. I think that the most challenging aspect about Cal academically is being able to manage your time and stay on top of your classes. Some classes might have no homework assignments and your entire grade might be based on midterms and a final. It’s up to you to study throughout the semester and do whatever practice problems or readings that you need to in order to get the grade that you want. No one is going to hold your hand. We have some of the best and most renowned professors in the world, but it is up to us to take advantage of them by going to office hours and creating relationships with them outside of the lecture hall. I’m definitely not used to sitting in a math class with 600 other students, so it has been a challenge for me to reach out to my professors and get the individual help that I need.
CB: What made you decide to come to Cal?
LL: When I was a freshman in high school, my lacrosse team took a spring break trip out to California (my first visit to the West Coast). We drove through the Cal campus briefly and spent a couple of days in the Bay Area. Ever since then, California was always in the back of my mind. I visited a lot of schools throughout the recruiting process, all of them on the East Coast except for Cal. When I took my official visit to Berkeley, I just fell in love with it. The girls on the team were so nice and had nothing negative to say about the school or the program. Despite almost being cut only a year before, they were excited about their upcoming season and more determined than ever to win. That kind of heart is rare. There is also the culture and history of Berkeley. You can’t find any other campus in the world that has seen so many protests and historical movements. There’s never a dull moment on Sproul Plaza. I saw a school where I could be challenged academically, play the sport that I love and experience the most independent and outspoken minds in the country. Oh, and did I mention the weather?
CB: What are your goals for the rest of your time at Cal, both academically and athletically?
LL: My main goal for the remainder of my time at Cal is to make every day count. I want to take full advantage of my time here by getting involved in things both within the athletic community and outside of athletics. I think it’s important to experience the diversity that this campus has to offer. Berkeley has definitely provided me with broadened perspectives that make me a more cultured person. Academically, I want to continue to take classes that interest me and will help me decide where I want to go from here. Athletically, I want to win an MPSF championship and take a trip to the NCAAs. I know how much potential this team has and I’m excited to continue the journey to reach that potential with my teammates.