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Youjin Jenny Jang / Senior Staff Photographer

Midfielder Paige Cuscovitch will leave behind an impressive legacy, finishing tied for the all-time program lead with 80 caused turnovers and the fourth-highest goal total with 108.

This senior profile is part of Spectator's 2014 commencement special issue. Check out the 17 other senior profiles, the class day ceremony recaps, and a timeline of the biggest events of the last four years.

Columbia's 2013 lacrosse season ended nearly a month ago, but that hasn't fully sunk in for senior midfielder Paige Cuscovitch.

“It's surreal,” Cuscovitch said. “It still hasn't hit me that I won't be coming back to play next fall.”

On a women's lacrosse team that won only one Ivy League game during her time in Light Blue, Cuscovitch has consistently been a bright spot, earning All-Ivy honors three times. Her impact is reflected in her presence in the program's record book: She is tied for first with 80 caused turnovers, and is fourth in goals with 108 and seventh in points with 124.

When Cuscovitch first arrived on campus, she was met with a program in disarray. Former Columbia head coach Kerri Whitaker, who recruited Cuscovitch, resigned in May 2010 and was replaced by current head coach Liz Kittleman Jackson. Some players quit and others resisted the change as Kittleman Jackson began the arduous task of rebuilding a program that had only posted two Ivy wins in 13 years of league play.  

But Cuscovitch took the turbulence in stride. 

“Coming in as a freshman, it was a new program and Coach [Kittleman Jackson] was hard on us,” Cuscovitch said. “The transition wasn't easy, but it wasn't a big deal.” 

The Longmeadow, Massachusetts, native wasted no time settling in. She led Light Blue first-years with 15 goals and three assists, and tallied up 20 ground balls. Cuscovitch shined in the Lions' 10-3 win over Yale, scoring four goals for her first career hat trick. 

But her sophomore season was when she began to really step up. Cuscovitch exploded for 36 goals, including seven hat tricks, to rank sixth in the Ancient Eight, and added 36 ground balls to earn an All-Ivy honorable mention.

“Some of my teammates told me that sophomore season is the best,” Cuscovitch said. “They told me to just go out and play with confidence.”

In her junior year, Cuscovitch continued to put up impressive numbers, earning second-team All-Ivy honors between solid offensive contributions, 47 ground balls, and 38 caused turnovers, the last of which ranked third in Division I on a per-game basis. And although she didn't have as impressive a senior season by the numbers—earning an All-Ivy honorable mention behind 29 goals—she said she took a more vocal role on the team to fill the gap left by the graduation of attacker Kacie Johnson, CC '13, likely the best player in program history.

“Paige quickly embraced her role as a leader and understood what it meant to be at the helm of a team,” Kittleman Jackson said, adding that “Paige was never in Kacie's shadow.”

In her senior year, Cuscovitch also became the sixth player in school history to reach 100 goals, although she said she doesn't place too much importance on the milestone, which she reached in April with a goal against University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

“I'm not playing for the stats, so it's not a big deal. I don't even remember it,” Cuscovitch said. “I had to get back up and get ready for the next draw.”

With her lacrosse career behind her, Cuscovitch said she is ready to move on. 

“Playing Columbia lacrosse is the best thing I've done here. I'll miss this so much, but I'm not sad to leave,” Cuscovitch said. “After four years my body's a bit worn down.” 

According to Kittleman Jackson, Cuscovitch is a “coach's dream” who has left her mark on the program.

“Her fire and work ethic she brings to every practice, every game, every lift—that's all she knows. It's in her blood,” Kittleman Jackson said. “Once in a while you come across a player who needs no motivation. That's Paige.” 

This senior profile is part of Spectator's 2014 commencement special issue. Check out the 17 other senior profiles, the class day ceremony recaps, and a timeline of the biggest events of the last four years. | @CUSpecSports

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