Hewlett clinches playoff berth


The Hewlett girls’ lacrosse team went from zero to 100 in a span of one season. 

When Hewlett defeated Division, 6-4, last Friday to clinch a playoff spot, the celebration on the field was fiery. The Bulldogs shouted, cheered, jumped on each other as music blared. Parents got out their cell phone cameras to capture the joy.

After not winning a single conference game last season, going 0-9, Hewlett is heading to the postseason after lifting its Conference 3 record to 4-4 (5-8 overall).  

“The girls were super excited,’’ coach Jackie Hughes said. “We used the analogy we were showing up to a party we weren’t invited to. They took that seriously and played with a lot of confidence. When I told them we had just made the playoffs, they were so happy and proud of themselves’’ 

The twin sisters of Marcie and Catie Iannico broke a 3-3 halftime tie, combining for three goals in the second half to secure a playoff bid. 

“They were just young last year,’’ Hughes said. “They learned a lot. This year they implemented what they learned and had more lacrosse experience. They’ve made good lacrosse IQ plays – something I try to teach them.  All my starters were juniors and took on a lot of responsibility last year as sophomores. 

A lot of the team’s success has been built around senior goalie Ava Giugliano, averaging 11 saves a game. 

  “It’s an amazing accomplishment,’’ Giugliano said regarding the 20022-to-2023 reversal “I think all of us, especially myself, have really grown up and learned what it means to play as a cohesive unit. I have played for this team for five years and have never felt a connection like I do with these girls.’’

A sophomore, Krista Lee is the top scorer with 27 points (21 goals, 6 assists). Next is Brianna Ruta (17-4-21), Marcie Iannico, who has 20 goals, Catie Iannico (9-6-15) and Kate Epstein (10-3-13). Senior Jordan Billharz has also been a contributor.

“A lot of our offensive players have really stepped up,’’ Giugliano said. “But what really changed our season from going to zero wins to payoffs was my amazing defense. As a goalie,, it is hard facing as many shots as I normally did last year, but my defense this year has been nothing but solid. They have had my back this entire season.’’  

The defense was spearheaded by Emily Goldenberg, Delilah Doncell and junior Antonella Tutino.

Hughes noted Doncell’s switch to a different spot in the zone has been key and improved her 1-on-1 defense. Tutino has excelled on clears. 

From the outset, there was a different vibe. In its conference opener, the Bulldogs routed Plainview, 20-6 – a club that had beaten them last season.

 “After our first conference win, we said we’re already better than last year,’’ Hughes said. 

There’s two more regular season games – Wednesday, after Herald press time, against Floral Park on Senior Night and this Friday versus MacArthur. Then it is a postseason nobody envisioned. 

On the whole, Hewlett lacrosse looks on the way up. 

“They don’t play lacrosse year-round in Hewlett like other places on Long Island,’’ Hughes said. “There’s a couple of summer clubs but the PAL is doing a good job now of starting in the first grade so the future of the program looks good.’’