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Offense sparks Hewlett to 7-1 start

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Behind a prolific offense spearheaded by three of its four senior captains, Hewlett posted double digits in goals in seven of its first eight games against Nassau Conference III girls’ lacrosse rivals and emerged victorious each of them as a result.

Mia Perkell, Rebecca Ziarno and Alessandra Borsellino are racking up points while fellow senior captain Kaitlyn Beyda anchors the zone defense for coach Jackie Hughes, who didn’t know what to expect from the Bulldogs after a canceled 2020 campaign.

“So far, so good,” Hughes said. “It was hard to determine what to expect since we didn’t play last season and didn’t have a JV team in 2019. Our senior leadership has been impressive and the entire group is playing with the mentality of they never know when the last time they’ll be on the field together is going to be.”

Perkell, who plays attack, was as busy as anyone since the pandemic hit, Hughes said. She spent countless hours perfecting her shot and also improved her strength and conditioning. In 2019, she was Hewlett’s second-leading scorer and helped the team finish 9-5, including a playoff win over Carey. This year, heading into this week’s action she ranks at the top of Nassau County in scoring with 44 goals and 17 assists. She had at least four goals in each of the first eight games.

“Mia’s nickname is “Little,” but she plays huge,” Hughes said. “She’s 5-foot-1 and winning draws against opponents 5-10. And her shot is just on another level.”

Like Perkell, Ziarno was determined to get back on the lacrosse field. “Rebecca is a high-energy player who’s entertaining to watch,” Hughes said. “She can score and she’s clutch on draw controls.” Ziarno had 29 goals and 11 assists through eight games and spends time at attack and midfield.

Borsellino, who just completed a stellar soccer season, is a critical piece to Hewlett’s defense from the midfield as she was in 2019, Hughes noted. “She goes nonstop for 50 minutes,” Hughes said. Borsellino has taken on more of an offensive role and has found the back of the net 25 times, including a 10-goal explosion in a 15-5 win at Jericho on May 8.

Freshmen midfielders Catie and Marcie Iannico and young attacks Jordan Billharz, a sophomore, and Brianna Ruta, a freshman, are also contributing offensively.

In the defensive zone, Beyda is the lone returning low defender and serving as a mentor to the younger contributors, Hughes said. Sophomore Emily Goldenberg and freshmen Kate Epstein and Olivia Bellin are getting major minutes and learning quickly. Junior Angelina Santos is the team’s most versatile player and has helped everywhere but goaltender where the Bulldogs are set for years with Ava Giugliano.

Giugliano, a sophomore who started every varsity game in 2019 as an eighth-grader, brings a high level of focus, Hughes said, and often ignites the transition game with her clearing ability. With 17 saves, Giugliano was the difference in Hewlett’s 14-8 win at Mineola on May 17.