Scrappy Hewlett maintains playoff hopes


Krista Lee, Brianna Ruta and Marcie Iannico are the leading scorers for a Hewlett’s girls’ lacrosse team off to a 4-4 start. 

But the reliability of senior captain Kate Epstein is the glue holding the Bulldogs together as they negotiate a tougher conference in 2024. 

Epstein, a midfielder, has played in every minute of every game since freshman year.

“She’s’ a coach’s dream, a kid who wants to always get better and help her team,’’ coach Jackie Hughes said. “She’s a true midfielder. Her name doesn’t always show up in the stats. but she’s doing the dirty work in the midfield, taking those fouls. She’s working hard on defense to get the ball out safely. She’s continued to improve and been a senior leader.’’

Epstein has 10 goals and 2 assists but the joy of being part of a team separates her. “I love to score and help other people score,’’ she said. “The energy on the field makes me want to play forever.’’

After a 4-2 start, Hewlett has dropped its last two contests last week against Oyster Bay and Baldwin to fall to .500 overall and in the conference (3-3). An April 25 contest versus Division stands as a whopper. Division is the squad Hewlett beat in the play-in game in 2023 to qualify for the playoffs. 

Making the postseason will be a bigger chore for the Bulldogs because of new teams in the conference. But the program has come a long way – winless in the conference two years ago.

“We’re going to have to fight tooth and nail with the games remaining to determine the outcome of our season,’’ Hughes said. “We’re playing new teams we haven’t seen.’’

The closeness of the squad, Epstein believes, will pull Hewlett through.

“We’re all very committed and continue to grow with each other,’’ Epstein said. “Our coach has done a great job with our team-building skills and I’m really seeing a difference on the field. I feel very supported by my teammates. We do a good job of communicating with each other on the field.’’

Lee leads Hewlett in scoring with 33 points – 30 goals and 3 assists. Next up is Ruta with 20 goals, 8 assists.

“Brianna continues to develop her feeding game to get her teammates involved, looking to make passes in years prior she wasn’t ready to make,’’ Hughes said. “Kris is using her lacrosse IQ to elevate those around her. They’ve been really working on elevating the offense even more.’’

Iannico has 15 goals and7 assists. Iannico and Lee share the faceoff duties but the coach says winning draws is a team effort. 

“In games we’re successful in we’re winning the draw and using each other on offense,’’ Hughes said. “We’re supporting the defense through the clear. 

In goal, Hewlett is getting good work out of freshman Dani Kotlyar,

“She wasn’t intending to play,’’ Hughes said. “We pleaded with her. Soccer is her main sport. We were able to get her on board. She’s doing well, gotten stronger and better. She’s always and learning from other goalies from college game and teams we play.’’

Epstein will attend the University of Wisconsin and play club lacrosse. First she wants to end her high-school season in style. “The people we have needed to step up have stepped up,’’ Hughes said.