Winless and with just one point through four games against Conference A-2 rivals, Hewlett’s margin for error to get into the Nassau Class A boys’ soccer playoff conversation was on shaky ground by the middle of September.
“It was a scary way to start because we’re so skilled,” coach Nick Lacetera said. “The kids were always positive. Once we got that first win out the way, they relaxed.”
The Bulldogs finally got a taste of success, a 2-1 victory over North Shore, on Sept. 15, and there’s been no satisfying their hunger since. They’ve ripped off six straight conference wins to vault into third place in the 13-team A-2 behind undefeated Plainedge and Lawrence.
“We’ve been treating every game like it’s a playoff game since starting 0-0-3-1,” Lacetera said.
Hewlett kept the ball rolling Oct. 5 while avoiding a letdown after beating defending county champion Glen Gove with a 3-1 victory at Division. Seniors Luca Preziosi and Ben Petterman each had a goal and an assist, and senior Roy Schwartz also scored to lead an offense that’s averaged a shade under three goals per game during the streak.
Preziosi scored the eventual winner, his ninth goal of the year, against Division 18 minutes into the second half off an assist from junior David Abikzer. Petterman added insurance seven minutes later as the Bulldogs clinched a playoff spot.
“We’ve got a large senior group and they didn’t want to go out with a non-playoff season,” Lacetera said. “Now our goal is to get a home playoff game. It’s been a long time since we’ve had one.”
Sophomore Laurent Dorviller has solidified the goalkeeping situation after the slow start. Though Hewlett is still looking for its first shutout of 2017, Dorviller came awfully close against Glen Cove on Sept. 26. The lone goal he allowed was on a penalty kick with 40 seconds remaining.
“That was a real solid win,” Lacetera said.
Preziosi scored both goals and could have had as many as five, the coach noted. “Luca hit the crossbar three times,” Lacetera said of the All-County forward. “He’s our biggest weapon but when teams double him, it’s easier for someone else to get open and we’re pretty well-balanced in the scoring.”
Schwartz, Petterman, Abikzer, senior center-midfielder Marc Ziarno, junior Juan Aguilar and sophomore Fernando Viscarra each had two goals through nine games.
Ziarno is the “field general,” Lacetera said, and brings a rare combination of tremendous foot skills, height, aggression and vision. Aguilar has fit nicely in the middle as a varsity newcomer, and Petterman and Viscarra work the outside.
In the back, senior sweeper Alex Vadaro serves as the anchor. One of the top lacrosse players in the county, he brings the same skill, smarts and strength to the soccer pitch. He was Honorable Mention All-County a year ago. “He’s so athletic and is a man amongst boys,” Lacetera said.
Senior Lesly Honore is having a standout year at sweeper and gets the toughest one-on-one assignment every game. Senior Joel Caceres and sophomore Tyler James are quick fullbacks.
“The guys are playing with a lot of confidence,” Lacetera said.