April 20, 2009
By Eric Dezendorf, Cal Athletic Media Relations
Redshirt senior two-meter defender Paige Lorenz, the captain of California's women's water polo team, has come from proverbial rags to riches over her excellent career in the pool as a Golden Bear.
Lorenz, who hails from Old Greenwich, Connecticut began her career in water polo on the wrong coast for the sport in terms of popularity. The East Coast is not generally known for its prowess in the sport of water polo, but that did not stop former swimmer Lorenz from taking up the sport at the age of 13. She joined the water polo club as a freshman at Greenwich HS, and helped to turn that club into a varsity sport by her junior year. Greenwich was the only public high school in the state with a water polo program, so they would square off against boarding schools and college clubs. Lorenz's talent was quickly noticed and she was lauded with league and state most valuable player awards during her senior season.
Along with her high school success, Lorenz participated in the U.S. national youth team in 2002 and 2003. It was through this team that Lorenz made her college choice. She knew that to take her game to the next level, she had to come out West. But she did not know which school she would attend until visiting the Cal campus.
"It was just fate," Lorenz said, "I had a national team competition in nearby Moraga, and they took us to Berkeley for the day to look around. I said to myself, `I have to come here.'"
After talking to former coach Amber Drury-Pinto, Lorenz signed on to become a Golden Bear. Once she came to Cal, Lorenz was greeted to an entirely new water polo universe.
"The competition here is night and day from what it was in high school, Lorenz declared."I realized I didn't really know how to play. In high school I was just strong and fast, and I just did it. It was kind of like starting from square one."
Lorenz sat out her first year with a redshirt, and attempted to learn the nuances and strategies of a game she had already been playing for five years.
During her first two years in the pool for Cal, Lorenz focused mostly on her defensive game, scoring 13 goals over her redshirt freshman and sophomore campaigns Last year, however, Lorenz broke out of her shell and netted 21 goals, which was good for fifth on the competitive squad. Lorenz attributes her offensive barrage to some of Cal head coach Rich Corso's strategy.
"Coach Corso really emphasizes creativity and I think it has changed my game completely." Lorenz said, "I used to just focus on my defense, but in the last year or so, I've focused a lot more on offense and driving."
The switch of concentration has paid massive dividends. So far this year, Lorenz has put 39 balls into the net, fifth on a strongly offensive team, but she is hungry for more. Lorenz, however, does not want the glory for herself, and is hoping to help add to a successful team effort which will hopefully result in an NCAA Tournament appearance and a journey deep into the tournament.
Lorenz is one of two graduating seniors on the water polo squad this season, and says her greatest accomplishment in the pool was not a goal scored or a game won, but having the opportunity to lead the team as captain this year. The Bears have not been upset by an opponent ranked lower than them this season, a tribute not only to Lorenz's leadership but to the quality of the team. Lorenz is not ready to be done with water polo yet, and hopes to keep playing, coaching and leading after this season ends.
"Stick with it." Lorenz advises younger players looking to compete in water polo, "I came to Cal and I was awful. I redshirted a year, then I didn't play much the next year, it was hard. It is a process, you can't expect you play right away, but now I'm the captain, so it's been great."