The Hewlett and Kennedy girls’ lacrosse programs have both come a long way in a short time. Hewlett qualified for the Nassau Class B playoffs following a winless 2022 campaign, while Kennedy captured a second conference title in three years.
But something had to give Tuesday evening when the teams met in an elimination game at Hewlett.
It was deadlocked late in the first half when the hosts seized control on the way to earning their first playoff win in four years. Freshman Claudia Lee’s tiebreaking score with 1:12 remaining in the half ignited a 10-goal run that propelled the Bulldogs to a 16-5 victory.
Junior Marcie Iannico scored four goals, and junior Kate Epstein and sophomore Krista Lee added three apiece as Hewlett (7-9 overall) advanced to face fifth-seeded South Side. The Cougars (11-5) got three goals from junior Ella Galjanich and a pair from sophomore Lauren Robinson.
“This game was a lot of fun and shows how much the girls worked since last season,” Hewlett coach Jackie Hughes said. “The first half was back-and-forth, but our girls found another gear in the second half that they didn’t know they had.”
Galjanich, who a week earlier scored her 100th career goal in the regular-season finale victory over Glen Cove that secured a share of the Conference 4 championship with Baldwin, notched her 50th and 51st of the year late in the first half to pull Kennedy into a 4-4 tie before Hewlett stepped on the gas behind Krista Lee and junior Brianna Ruta’s draw controls.
“Ella is a very skilled player who came back this season from a serious knee injury,” said Kennedy coach Mallory Freely, who also praised the efforts of Robinson and the Wohlleben sisters, Alexa and Jordi.
The Bulldogs led 6-4 at halftime and were off to the races in the second half when Iannico scored 36 seconds in. Hughes credited standout senior goaltender Ava Giugliano with a defensive adjustment to help contain Galjanich.
“Ava’s a five-year starting goalie and she has a great feel for the game,” Hughes said. “The first thing she said at halftime was we need to shut off 16 [Galjanich], so we had Tella Tutino faceguard her and Kate Epstein did an excellent job helping dictate where she [Galjanich] was going.”
In addition to Tutino, seniors Emily Goldenberg and Dalilah Doncell were instrumental in keeping the Cougars off the scoreboard for most of the second half. Krista Lee’s third goal of the night and team-leading 31st of the season capped Hewlett’s run and the lead was 14-4 with 6:59 left.
“It was our best played half of the season,” Hughes said.
Giugliano finished with nine saves, giving her 145 for the campaign and 599 for her career. “We’ve played more as a cohesive unit,” she said. “Winning some games early in the season definitely sparked our enthusiasm and carried us.”
Kennedy junior goaltender Adrianna Califano finished the year with 135 saves, with 16 of those coming in a shutout victory over Baldwin that put the Cougars in the conference driver’s seat.
“We were disappointed but happy to have gotten the opportunity,” Freely said. “Tonight wasn’t our best, but we had a very strong season.”