Things are finally looking up for the Hewlett girls’ lacrosse program.
One year after a dismal three-win season, the Lady Bulldogs, under first-year coach Jackie Hughes, won nine games and defeated a strong Carey team in the first round of the Nassau B playoffs on May 11. Hewlett fell to South Side four days later in the quarterfinals, but the continued growth of its talented underclassmen make playoff wins more commonplace down the road.
Hughes, a former assistant coach at Molloy, credited the team for buying into her system immediately and their senior leadership for this year’s success.
“Them committing to doing everything that we were asking really set the tone for all the other girls to realize, ‘Hey, we need to be doing this too,’” Hughes said of the four seniors.
Hewlett quickly equaled its entire win total from last year with its victory over Mineola on March 30 that pushed the team’s record to 3-1, but consecutive road losses to eventual Conference III-champion Friends Academy and Lynbrook raised some concerns. But those thoughts were quickly erased with a five-game winning streak that put the Lady Bulldogs in a more comfortable playoff position.
The biggest win during the streak was a 9-8 victory over East Meadow on May 4. Junior Eileen Pincus tied the game at 8 with just over two minutes remaining and senior Margo Vershleiser got the winner with 4.6 seconds left with an unassisted tally that was preceded by a game-saving turnover caused by sophomore defenseman Alessandra Borselli.
“I think that was probably one of my favorite game I’ve ever coached or participated in,” Hughes said. “For them to realize at halftime that they needed to wake up a little bit and hold them to one goal in the second half, that was a testament to our defensive play and our offensive intelligence.”
The Lady Bulldogs went on to face Conference IV-champion Carey in the first round of the playoffs and outscored the Lady Seahawks 11-3 in the first half en route to a 17-4 rout. Mia Perkell had her coming out party with a season-high seven goals and fellow sophomore Rebecca Ziarno added three for Hewlett, which defeated Carey for the second time of the season while handing them just their fourth loss of the spring.
“They did a great job looking up in transition and just being completely unselfish in the defensive and the offensive end,” Hughes said.
Hewlett scored 146 goals in 14 games this year, but amazingly had just seven different scorers. Vershleiser reached the 50-goal mark in her final game, Perkell added 38, and Ziarno (26) and junior Eileen Pincus (21) also reached the 20-goal plateau.
Eighth-grader Ava Giugliano, who played on the JV team last season, was stellar in her first year as the starting goalie after posting eight double-digit save performances this spring. She was backed by an aggressive defensive corps led by Pincus, sophomore Katie Beyda and seniors Nicloe Herrera, Samantha Panzarella and Jordyn Zeidman.