Girls Lacrosse: Practice pays off for Westerville North graduate Paige Miller
Paige Miller didn't become a standout lacrosse player without breaking a few things around her family's home.
The 2020 Westerville North graduate scored more than 100 goals in her first three seasons as an attacker with the Warriors thanks in part to practicing at home, but some mishaps came with those workouts.
"Every day after lacrosse practice, I would come home and play," said Miller, a Findlay commit. "I have a net that rebounds the ball to me and I have a regular goal at home. I also have broken a lot of lights and fences from working out. That's part of it.
"My (top) shot speed is between 65-70 mph and the average is probably around 40 (mph). That came from when I would come home from practice and throw the ball into the net."
Miller had a team-high 33 goals and four assists last season when North finished 6-12 overall and 2-5 in the OCC-Buckeye Division. She was the Warriors' Offensive Player of the Year with 44 goals and 26 assists as a sophomore and had 29 goals and six assists as a freshman to earn the team's Rookie of the Year award.
Miller expected better numbers in her senior season, but spring sports were canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
"Paige was our leading scorer for the last three years and she expected to do that again this season," coach Matt Orioli said. "It comes down to the work she puts in on and off the field. She lives, eats and sleeps lacrosse.
"She was a scorer ever since middle school. When you have that kind of work ethic and skill level, you'll be a good scorer. She also has become a well-rounded player, and she became a more well-rounded player by getting her teammates more involved in the game."
Miller, who totaled 106 goals and 36 assists in her high school career, tried to stay busy during the state's stay-at-home order by working on her game.
"I tried to do whatever I could do, like wall ball," she said, referring to the practice drill of shooting a lacrosse ball off a wall. "I would do at least 50 (shots) with my right hand, 50 with my left hand and 50 behind the back.
"(Orioli) gave us some things we could work on at home. My parents (Jeff and Lisa) tried to help me and I would throw the ball around with them. The more reps you do, the easier it will be for you in the games. It's really important (to be ambidextrous), so I do reps with both hands."
Miller began playing lacrosse as a fourth-grader because of her cousins, Katelyn and Lexi Miner, who moved to California when she was in the fifth grade.
"I looked up to them, and they got me interested in the sport," Miller said. "I always have been an offensive player. I was always fast and it came easily to me."
Although Orioli was in his first season leading the Warriors' program, he was well aware of Miller's abilities, as he previously had worked with her as a high school assistant, a middle school coach and a youth coach.
"He has been coaching me since I was in the fifth grade," said Miller, who graduated with a 3.4 GPA and plans to study sociology in college. "He has literally taught me everything I know. He's big on motivation and he cares about everyone on the team so much."
Orioli expects Miller to be an impact player for Findlay.
"I think ultimately Paige is ready (to play at the collegiate level)," Orioli said. "She is a powerful scorer from her right side, and if she continues to improve her left hand, she will be tough to stop. Another thing that she showed in the preseason was that she was better at riding girls on the break defensively. She was really good at turning the ball over, and a season ago she wouldn't have been able to do that.
"She has put in so much time away from scheduled practices that when she is playing all year, she will be that much better. Going back to her youth, whether it was at home or at the stadium, she always would have a lacrosse stick in her hand. It will be interesting to see how much she improves playing lacrosse year-round."